Following reassessments, resident warns of a “municipal mutiny”

Maplewood resident Alice Hezel went to a town hall meeting hosted by St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman in June for residents who might have felt their recent reassessment was too high. Many had an increase of more than one hundred percent. See the St. Louis Post-Dispatch post on the issue.

Alice Hezel sent her response to the meeting to 40 South:

Well fellow Senior Taxpayers It’s time for another Boston Tea Party, or Mutiny on the Bounty or a Municipal Mutiny.

WE, Maplewood, Richmond Heights, Webster Groves and Meacham Park, Crestwood and Kirkwood have all been neighbors and friends for 20, 30 or 40 years. It breaks my heart when I drive through these communities and see all of the “For Sale” signs. WE are being taxed out of our homes and communities that we have struggled to keep in spite of the County Government. The reason we incorporated originally was to get out from under the tyranny of County Government.

When Jake Zimmerman held the town hall meetings, he did not open up by saying WE, St. Louis County Government, are going to ask you, the SENIOR CITIZEN, to do all the work in two weeks and without computers or our Real Estate Tax Program that we, who were getting paid to do it, could not do in a year and get it right.

Mr. Zimmerman should have said, since most of the Senior Citizens do not have access to a computer or our programs we use to determine taxes. I will open up the assessor’s office every weekend until everyone has a chance to research their real estate taxes and have Clayton provide free parking and I will provide tutors to help you learn the computer and our system so you can access our systems and have pictures of the interior of your comparable without having to go and knock on doors to see what your comparable look like.

WE, again must stick together and fight for our future as a community. One person at the meeting I was at said he has lost four neighbors over the tax issue.

Seniors on a fixed income cannot compete with the companies that flip homes for profit or the developers who buy a home and tear it down to build a McMansion. They don’t have to put in the streets or utilities like we had to (So it’s all profit and why doesn’t the County charge them a fee to reimburse us for our taxes to cover our expense to build the roads and put in the utilities and apply this against our real estate taxes.

I don’t want one more homeowner to sell their house so the County won’t sell it for taxes and put them out on the street. After all, I have already paid $30,000+ taxes over the years and I’m sure most of you have also. Even if you sell and move into an apartment eventually the money will run out as the landlord will keep raising the rent as his taxes keep going up and you will eventually end up out on the street.

UNITED WE STAND will be our motto and we all have to stick together to fight this injustice. Stay tuned for an update.

I feel your pain as I also lay awake at nights worrying about how I’m going to survive but I made it to 74 overcoming a stroke, breast and lung cancer and diabetes so I guess I can make it a few more years.

I worked seven years as a St. Louis County Police Officer and seven years for the County highway and for my labor of 14 years the county gives me a whopping $256.38 a month X 12 = $3,076.56 and out of that they want me to pay $3,159.62 in Real Estate Taxes, so YES, I feel your pain.

The next time you see someone in line for food stamps or at a food pantry or trying to get help with paying an electric bill OR dressed like a cow so they can get a free sandwich at Chic-Fil-A and they look familiar, remember it’s probably a retired St. Louis County CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE.

21 thoughts on “Following reassessments, resident warns of a “municipal mutiny”

  1. In figuring the taxes, the assessor should deduct the amount the owner spent to fix up the house to sell it. and then it would maybe make sense. (i.e. sold for $75,000. – $20,000.00 to fix it up = actual value of $50,000) McMansion sold for $400,000 – $300,000 to build = actual value of $1000,000

  2. I recently became aware of this program. I hope it helps some struggling with their raised taxes. The yes/no chart makes it very easy to see if you qualify.

    The Missouri Property Tax Credit Claim is a program that allows certain senior citizens and 100 percent disabled individuals to apply for a credit based on the real estate taxes or rent they have paid for the year. The credit is for a maximum of $750.00 for renters and $1,100.00 for owners. The actual credit is based on amount paid and total household income, taxable and nontaxable.

  3. There is a housing crisis in this country and the property (and sales taxes) keep going up in St. Louis just to pay for basic things like schools and bridge repair and police and fire. These are not “handouts” they are the basics of a community. Heaven forbid the politicians in Jefferson City or Washington put a tax on the top 1% to help pay for anything! They keep getting richer as the economy and wall street are “doing great” while the rest of us suffer to just survive and have a place to live.

    I feel for seniors who are losing their homes because taxes are high. But I as a Gen X’er I lost everything and had my house foreclosed in Webster Groves because I got a little behind and the property values were going thru the roof, but they wouldn’t refinance my mortgage because Trump changed the rules for Home Modification. I work two jobs and own a business and I invested in a house and community for 22 years but the mortgage company still took my house even though there was a lot of equity in it. It is really criminal what is going on with housing across this country. Someone needs to fix it!!! Middle class and poor people are paying for everything (thru property and sales tax) while Top 1% can dodge just about everything and don’t pay and don’t get taxed. Plus Rich people are taking all the property and younger people (Gen-X and Millenials) can’t even get into the housing market at all or are forced out. it’s almost impossible to buy a house in the first place! Wake up! There needs to be systemic shift in our communities to fix this . . . . Everyone is boxed into a system that isn’t working . . .

    • You couldn’t afford your mortgage payments, had equity in your house, didn’t sell it and pocket the equity but let the bank foreclose. That’s Trump’s fault? You still believe the rich don’t pay taxes? Nonsense, they pay most of the taxes. Of course there are inequities in the tax code such as earned income is taxed at a higher rate than unearned (capital gains). However, high income individuals still pay the majority of all taxes. Quit blaming others for your self-induced misery!

      • John, how do you know she didn’t try to sell it? How do you know whether she had good advice how to deal with the situation?

  4. Nicole must work for the MRH school district. I agree with Jeff. Most of our taxes go to the education cartel.
    We’ve been fighting these tax increases and bond issues for years and lose due to those people who keep voting yes because “it’s for the children!”.
    Maybe this latest reassessment could be the wake up call STL voters needed.
    Who knows?

    • The tax increase for the school system approved in 2018 raised taxes by 15 cents for every $100. That’s not what Alice was talking about in the original post, and nobody’s losing their house because of that, it’s because the appraised value is going up so fast. I moved here 6 years ago and the appraised value of my house has gone up by 270%. How are people supposed to plan for that? Anyway, you and Nicole are doing the same thing, mocking people who are being priced out of their community. But it makes no sense coming from you because you’re trying to say “it’s your fault” and “it’s the school fault” both at the same time.

  5. Folks, How about asking the Maplewood/Richmond Heights school district to also stop asking for more money, more money and begin more effectively managing the district with the amount they have.

    • Hey Jeff, how about tell Republicans in Jeff City and Washington to stop defunding public education so that local districts don’t have to step up their spending. State and federal spending in education still hasn’t recovered from 2008, even though supposedly the economy is great now. And all the tax increase for the school district are approved by voters, so if you want to criticize the school then you’re just complaining about the community as a whole.

  6. I couldn’t agree more! We expect to pay our taxes on our home. We expect (and hope) that we will pay a little more each year because our neighborhood is always improving. However, the jumps in the county’s “estimated value” is totally ridiculous!

    I can’t imagine how seniors on a fixed income manage. A one-bedroom house purchased many years ago should not be taxed so significantly that the homeowner is in danger of losing it.

    Maybe Nicole could spend some time volunteering to help seniors (and others) learn to adjust their budgets and investments – and possibly receive a dose of reality and compassion in the process!

  7. I agree Alice! While I’m not a “county civilian employee” I am 60 years old and grew up in Maplewood. I then got married and bought a house here back in 1990. I was divorced (not my decision) in 2007 and unfortunately had to refinance back to a 30 year loan to be able to keep my home and make the payments on one income instead of 2. That was hard enough, but I was able to make it.

    As anyone knows who owns a home, your payment goes up when real estate taxes or homeowners insurance goes up. I lost my job of 20 years in 2018 due to an acquisition of the company and now work part time. You can only get 25 hours a week guaranteed, but they pay for your health and dental insurance, which is very important to have for someone for older people. But income isn’t as good of course. Plus the fact that it’s much harder for older folks to land the “good” jobs.

    Well, with the new assessments on my 1 bedroom, 800 square foot home raising my monthly payment significantly, I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up after 30 years of being here. Quite the dilemma for older folks who are long time residents and literally helped to build this community.

  8. Quoting from the letter above:
    “Mr. Zimmerman should have said, since most of the Senior Citizens do not have access to a computer or our programs we use to determine taxes. I will open up the assessor’s office every weekend until everyone has a chance to research their real estate taxes and have Clayton provide free parking and I will provide tutors to help you learn the computer and our system so you can access our systems and have pictures of the interior of your comparable without having to go and knock on doors to see what your comparable look like.”

    Oh come on. In one breath you state “WE must fight for our future as a community,” but then the requests that are being asked of Mr. Zimmerman listed above sound like a whole lot of hand holding, not “fighting for your future.” If you don’t have a computer, go to the library — they’re free there. If you don’t know how to use a computer or access your real estate taxes or get comp information, do your own research. The internet is a wonderful place to do so.

    We’re adults. We’re homeowners. Taxes are part of owning a home. In the eight years that I’ve lived as a homeowner in Maplewood, the neighborhood has improved tremendously. So have the schools. Guess what? As a result of those improvements, taxes are going to go up — as they should.

    Can’t afford the higher taxes? Save up your money. Eat out less (and not at Chick-Fil-A, as was mentioned above). If you’re retired and didn’t invest appropriately while you were working, that’s on you. Get a part-time job. And if all of that fails (or you just plain don’t want to do it), move to a less expensive community. That’s life. If you want to continue living in thriving communities and neighborhoods, that’s going to cost money.

    The amount of handouts and free passes that some in our community are asking for a result of these increased taxes is embarrassing and pathetic. Take some accountability for yourselves. Prepare better upfront and you won’t have to sell your house over a tax increase of a couple thousand dollars.

    • Nicole,
      It’s quite apparent that you lack immensely in the compassion department. You also have no respect whatsoever for the elder.
      Not sure how old you are, but nonetheless, your self righteous attitude and comments are abhorrent. I could go on further much further, But I won’t. People such as yourself see life one way….YOUR way and think it’s the only way.

    • What a judgmental, arrogant response when you don’t know other people’s circumstances. Step into their shoes. People have bad situations although they worked very, very hard. In some cases they are forced to retire due to health and jobs ending due to company buyouts or reorganization. I’m glad you are fortunate. Historically Maplewood was a very affordable community for people.

      You missed the point that there is a day in the year when one dresses in cow decoration and you get FREE food at Chick-Fil-A. That’s only eating out when the food is free. Your callous comment disgusts me. Shame on you.

    • You have no idea how other people earned what they have. How hard people worked to get their homes in Maplewood. There were times when Maplewood had a bad reputation and people didn’t want to live here. Those of us who worked two to three jobs to afford to buy a home 30-50+ years ago, and are now nearing retirement or are retired are being forced out of our homes by the extreme rise in taxes that is happening now that Maplewood is ‘trendy’. How dare you tell us to move to a less expensive neighborhood. We bought into a less expensive neighborhood in the beginning. Eat out less? Didn’t save appropriately? Get a part time job? Better prepare upfront? How dare you slap people in the face with these statements. Maplewood has historically been a working class neighborhood. Many people lived paycheck to paycheck, and still worked to make our city a better place to live. So now you throw us out with the trash because we can’t ‘afford’ to live where we set down roots many many years ago, because we (“just don’t plain don’t want to do it) referring to getting a part time job. Our bodies are old and tired, worn out from our hard work. Didn’t invest properly? Invest what? The extra money that people had after paying their bills and feeding their families? There was none. Now that people are retired and living on Social Security, have paid off their mortgages, have no debt, but can’t afford 50-100% raises in real estate taxes, they are told to move off?? Hard working seniors don’t deserve to retire in place because younger generations who benefited from the hard work of their parents and grandparents now want to live in our ‘thriving communities and neighborhoods’. Who built those communities and neighborhoods? We did. Those who are now saying they can’t afford it and are asking for a break are ’embarrassing and pathetic’. How dare you. Your attitude towards those of lesser means and our elders is embarrassing and pathetic. This shows your lack of respect for others. You moved here 8 years ago. Good for you. We built this city and stayed with it for decades. Now that it is improved and thriving, we are not worth keeping because we are no longer able to keep up with tremendous tax increases. Yes taxes are a part of life. Caring about others is part of life, and you obviously don’t. Re-read what you wrote from the eyes of your grandmother. I don’t think she would be proud of your words.

    • Nicole,
      It’s shocking at the lack of empathy and compassion you have for people living in your community. May you never have to experience what it’s like to struggle to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and a sense of dignity that comes with losing a job, a divorce, a serious illness or other things out of one’s control that may put them in a vulnerable financial situation, but please, try to show some compassion for those of us that have.