Commissioners discuss Senate Bill 190

During their regular Monday morning meeting, the Ozark County Commissioners discussed the damage to county roads due to several severe storms the past few weeks and the recently passed Senate Bill 190.

Senate Bill 190 allows Missouri residents age 62 and older to “freeze” the property tax for their primary residence. The bill was passed in the Senate in 2023. However, because of several controversial “problems” with the bill, it was sent back to the senate to be tweaked before being instituted by most Missouri counties.

This tax relief did not go into effect in time for the 2023 taxes (which will be paid in December 2024) but will go into effect for 2024 taxes (which will be paid in December 2025).

“We’ve got our resolution written, and we’re going through and tweaking it,” said Ozark County Presiding Commissioner Terry Newton. “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll adopt that resolution and get it ready.”

However, the state’s adoption of the bill is going to cost the county several thousand dollars, Newton and Ozark County Clerk Brian Wise said.

“It’s going to cost us technically a minimum of $10,000, but it’s definitely going to be above that,” said Wise.

“That’s just for the software to get it in place,” said Newton.

County officials don’t believe the bill is going to save senior citizens much on their taxes.

“So it costs us that ($10,000) to allow the people to get ‘50 cents’ off their tax bill,” added Wise.

Newton cited an example of an 80-year-old man who lives on his daughter’s property. “So he’s not going to get anything...cause it only applies to your primary residence.

“So like I said it’s kind of screwball.”

Newton said he, Wise, Western District Commissioner Layne Nance and possibly Ozark County Assessor Jama Berry and Ozark County Collector Darla Sullivan will visit Christian County where the software is already in place.

According to Newton, the Christian County Clerk said officials from several different Missouri counties have already visited his office to observe the program in action and see if there are any “tweaks” to make the program fit their county better.

Newton said the man who designed the software lives in Nixa and the county officers hope to meet with him at that time to see if there is anything needed that is specific to Ozark County.

“Every office is going to have a hand in it (instituting the bill), that’s what’s crazy about it,” said Newton. “You can’t just go to one office and get approved. It’s got to go to this office and find this out, this office and find this out, this one to find this out. I mean it’s a screwball mess.

“Not only the software is the [county’s cost]. It’s going to cost us for that. Man hours are worth something and everybody is going to have a hand in each individual application.”

However, despite the cost and time involved, the commissioners assured Ozark County residents that the resolution is in place for the county and the commissioners and other county officials are finding and fixing mistakes.

Newton said he is uncertain how much the bill will save older residents.

“We don’t know. That’s just it, We don’t know until they do it. It’s going to be different for everybody,” said Newton. “For instance at Bakersfield they have a tax levy and when that gets paid off and goes away, it will change a little bit there.

“I am going to apply for it because I want to know what it is so I can tell people ‘This is all it’s going to save me, and I’m not going to mess with it.’”

Newton added that signing up to qualify for the benefits is not a one time thing. “It’s every year you’re going to have to come in, fill out the form. You’re going to have to get the paperwork, and then it will be just like your assessment form...if nothing’s changed then you put nothing’s changed, and we’ll use the year before [tax rate]. But if you’ve added onto your house or done something that’s changed your residence’s value then your assessed value is going to go up. You’re not going to get to stay the same if you add a two car garage.”

Newton said that to qualify for the tax relief, a person must go to five county offices to make certain all the information is correct. 

All of this paperwork is going to cost the county a lot of money, he added. “By the time you figure out the software cost and the man hour cost it’s going to cost us way more [than what it will save the taxpayer[. It is what it is. I mean people will save but it’s not much.”


Storm damage

Commissioners also discussed the continuing damage to county roads because of several inches of rain and strong winds that have affected many portions of the county during the past few weeks.

“They’re [road and bridge crews] out working on the storm damage,” said Nance.

“I had a guy call this morning and he said ‘my road...’ I said ‘I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

Nance said that in a period of 10 days and two different times he has had 3 inches of rain in about two or two and a half hours. “And you know what that does to things.

“[Crews are] behind and they’re trying to get caught up but it just keeps hammering, and they can’t get it done,” he added.

Nance added that Haskins Ford, a crossing that is often closed because Bull Shoals lake backs up over it, is open despite the heavy rain. “We got a lot of rain, but the creeks didn’t even come up, it just come so fast.”

Nance said the Souder and Almartha areas in the north part of the county were hit hard during the storms. “I was working most of the day yesterday (Sunday, June 30) just on one road.”

“It was just pockets,” said Newton. “I mean like at Willow Springs they got less that 1/2” of was very, very isolated.”

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423