(The Center Square) – Voters gave mixed results to ballot initiatives to reduce commercial property taxes in two Missouri counties during Tuesday’s elections.
In Laclede County, 60% of voters decided not to lower the tax rate from $1.03 to 51 cents per $100 assessed valuation – a 51% reduction – on all utility, industrial, commercial, railroad and other property that’s not residential or agricultural. In Clay County, 56% of voters approved the lowering of its commercial property tax rate by 10%, from $1.59 per $100 assessed valuation to $1.44.
“I was very pleased to see the result and I think it shows that people are interested in tax equity and making sure that our businesses have a level playing field,” Jerry Nolte, commissioner of Clay County, said in an interview with The Center Square. Nolte also was re-elected to his office on Tuesday with 72% of the vote.
Messages with Laclede County Commissioner Randy Angst weren’t returned. Angst was unopposed in Tuesday’s election in the race for his office.
Clay County’s commercial property surtax rate was the third-highest in the state, trailing only St. Louis County at $1.70 per $100 assessed valuation and the City of St. Louis at $1.64.
Nolte said voters seemed to be influenced in favor of the reduction when learning the new rate would put the county at the same rate as neighboring Jackson County.
“I think we benefited from the idea that it was going to give us a level playing field,” Nolte said. “It was a very compelling argument. Why should we, in Clay County, pay a higher tax rate than Jackson County? I think that resonated with people.”
Nolte also said other tax cuts influenced voters to reduce the tax on businesses.
“We cut the general county property tax this year and the library district reduced its tax rate, so we’re on kind of a roll on lowering property taxes,” Nolte said. “You look at a little bit here and a little bit there and it adds up, I think, to be something significant for people.”
Clay County’s 10% reduction for businesses was far less than the 51% cut Laclede County voters rejected.
“I think people are not wanting dramatic change,” Nolte said. “But they would like to see us going in what they perceive to be the right direction. Happily, I think that’s what we did. We read the sentiment of our citizens and acted accordingly.”
Clay County’s new rate will become effective on July 1, 2023.