Skip to content

Madison County Committee recommends Homestead Renewal

by Randy Pierce

MADISON COUNTY — Pending final approval by the Madison County Board, expected to occur this week, homestead tax exemptions for qualified property owners may be automatically extended from year to year, circumventing the need for reapplying annually.

Approved unanimously last week by the county board’s finance and government operations committee, chaired by Chris Guy of Maryville, the planned change in the policy would cover all of the townships within the county’s borders which now have the autonomous authority to allow or disallow this procedure.

The auto-renewal concept was presented to the aforementioned committee by Chris Slusser, the county treasurer, who issued a statement about it prior to the first step in the new legislation’s approval process. Stating that it would create a reduction in “pointless red tape” for all involved, Slusser explained both in his statement and to the committee that his office found a clause in the applicable state statute (regulation) covering the senior citizens homestead tax exemption provision which permits the county board to implement the auto-renewal procedure.

Incumbent Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, who is being challenged for his seat by Slusser in next month’s Republican primary election, was quick to point out, upon being made aware of plans by his opponent to bring this idea forward, that another administrative official within the same government unit had been pursuing it since last August.

“The treasurer is claiming credit for something our Chief County Assessment Office Denise Shores did last fall,” Prenzler said.

Shores, whose appointment for her position was approved by the county board in late summer of 2023, according to Prenzler, issued a postcard communication to low-income senior citizens in early January informing them that, beginning with the current calendar year, those individuals would no longer be required to renew their exemptions.

At that time, Shores also told the seniors in her written message that applications for the tax exemption are available at applicable township offices and the county board of review base of operations at 157 North Main Street, Suite 222, in Edwardsville, with further information available by calling (618) 692-6210. The renewal scenario as it has existed involved the mailing of a yellow card to the qualified property owners who had to fill out and return it for their tax exemption continue for another year.

Where the change comes into play, should the county board move forward with it as anticipated, is that the auto-renewal process would be available at all, not just some, township offices and be effective permanently once the original application forms for the exemption are completed and confirmed as acceptable, until the applicant is deceased.

The requirement for the exemption recipients to renew every year “cost the county thousands of dollars in postage,” Prenzler said, something he and Slusser agree on.
“Denise is to be congratulated,” Prenzler added. “In her first several months on the job, she made changes saving taxpayers more than $20,000 annually.”

Slusser said in his announcement that he had spoken with Shores, a former assessor in Coles County, which is located to the northeast of here toward the Indiana border, who indicated “her office was on board and supportive of the move.”

Prior to Slusser addressing the finance and government operations committee on Thursday, Feb. 15, Guy commented that he felt it was “a wonderful idea” and that he had discussed it with a nearby neighbor who provided positive feedback.

There were “about a half dozen or so” larger townships in the county, Slusser noted, whose assessors had decided to continue with the mandatory renewal of the homestead tax exemption for seniors but upon passage of the legislation at hand, they will have no choice but to utilize the new process.

By codifying this matter, meaning to make it a formal regulation encompassing the entire county, Slusser said “We wouldn’t have this mismatch” of some townships doing it and others not, adding, “Once you’re 65, you don’t get any younger.”

“Senior citizens are often the hardest hit by this property tax burden,” Slusser said in his initial release to the press. “This is the least we can do to make things easier for them to receive the savings they’re eligible for. This resolution does that and makes a lot of sense.”

In that 1500 to 2000 seniors, according to Slusser, turn in their homestead exemption renewal paperwork late every year, even though it is still accepted, the county treasurer’s office that he currently heads up has to, when this happens, send out corrected tax bills representing thousands of dollars in added costs.

The exemption drops the assessed value of a qualified low-income senior’s property by $5000, leading to an annual tax savings for the participants of between $350 and $500.

Leave a Comment