An effort to limit how high your property taxes can grow could choke off the money needed to run your school district or pay for your city services.
An amendment sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-O’Fallon), and drafted onto the Circuit Breaker bill, ties any voter-approved property tax increase to the previous assessment. She argues that homeowners simply want to know what they will pay under a levy increase and if it is based on the previous assessment, they can be assured about their new tax bill.
Rep. Rachel Bringer (D-Palmyra) worries about the wording of the amendment offered by Davis. Bringer says the wording could be interpreted that assessments are frozen to the year prior to the tax increase, until voters approve another tax increase. She also says the amendment doesn’t take into account new construction, which would keep school districts and local governments from the benefits of natural economic growth. Bringer says the amendment could defeat the benefits derived from a voter-approved tax increase.
The amendment has now become part of a bill that enhances the Circuit Breaker program, a program that provides property tax relief for senior citizens. HB 1321 is sponsored by Rep. Mike Sutherland (R-Warrenton), who has combined his bill with HB 1695 sponsored by Rep. Clint Zweifel (D-Florissant).
Under the bill, an elderly person could qualify for the property tax break if they make up to $32,500 annually. The current Circuit Breaker program contains a $27,500 ceiling. A couple could make up to $43,000 under the bill. The minimum credit allowed under the program would increase from $750 to $1,100. The Circuit Breaker program was established in 1996. It has changed little since.