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   Three men who admit conspiring with ex-Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon to rig property tax auctions are free as they await sentencing.  

   John Vassen, Scott McLean and Barratt Rochman each pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to violating the Sherman Anti-trust Act.  The three men orchestrated a multi-year "pay-for-play" scam that cheated more than 10,000 property owners out of about $2 million in excessive interest and penalty payments.  

   Bathon had pleaded guilty in February to rigging tax lien auctions between 2005 and 2008 to benefit his political donors.

   U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams set the sentencing hearing for Vassen, McLean and Rochman for Feb. 21.

Published in Local News

   Property taxes will remain the same for homeowners in the Ferguson-Florissant School District after voters rejected the district's first tax hike request in 21 years.  

   Only 42 percent of voters in Tuesday's election approved the measure that would have raised taxes by 75 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation.  The tax hike would have raised about $6 million for district schools. 

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the district is facing a projected $4.6 million shortfall for the coming school year, despite cutting before- and after-school programs and freezing teacher pay.

Published in Local News

   A retirement community that charges a six figure entry fee isn't a charitable institution and must pay property taxes.  That's according to the St. Louis County Board of Equalization which Tuesday rejected a request for tax-exempt status by the Aberdeen Heights Senior Living Center in Kirkwood.  

   Aberdeen officials had asked the board to waive their $1.2 million annual tax bill, a move that would have cost Kirkwood schools around 700-thousand dollars a year. 

   Aberdeen's attorneys had argued that the luxury complex qualifies as non-profit because it waves living expenses for residents who can no pay.  

   St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman say that doesn't matter because residents must first pay the steep entry fee in order to get the "free" lifetime care.  

   Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, Aberdeen's parent company, is expected to appeal the ruling.

 

 

Published in Local News

   ST. LIBORY, Ill. (AP) - The small, metro-east village of St. Libory is returning a quarter of the property taxes collected from new homeowners.

   The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the village is giving back the tax money in an effort to draw young families into its school district. The refund is good for homes built in a certain tax increment finance district and is good for up to eight years. Homeowners apply to receive the refund.

   The village has hired an Edwardsville firm called Moran Economic Development to help it boost growth. About 615 people live in St. Libory, which is about 35 miles southeast of St. Louis.

   Thomas Henderson is with the Illinois Tax Increment Association in Springfield. He says the village's incentives aren't common.

 
Published in Local News
Although the housing market may be picking up, assessed home values in St. Louis are expected to decline for the third time in a row.

St. Louis County's first elected assessor, Jake Zimmerman says preliminary computer models show values dipping slightly. Zimmerman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that human assessors may tweak the figures after examining individual homes.

He says anyone whose assessed property value increases will be notified by mail right away so that there's plenty of time for an appeal before the bills go out in the fall.
Published in Local News

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