Jefferson City businesses damaged in May tornado owe property tax
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City business owners are dealing with damaged or demolished buildings from the tornado in May. Although some buildings are unusable, commercial business owners are still paying full property taxes.
The owner and operator of Meyer Frame Shop, Greg Meyer, said how frustrated his friends are after losing their business and still having to pay full taxes.
"They've torn down friends of mine's buildings and they have to pay, and they don't even have buildings anymore," Meyer said. "I know them personally so I know how it feels."
He said over the years he has experienced similar situations, and even though he was legally unable to go into detail, he understands his colleagues' pain.
"I understand what they are going through, and I feel for them."
The Cole County Assessor office gave KOMU the Occupancy Law and Natural Disasters document from the State Tax Commission.
It states: "The law does not apply to improvements classified as commercial or agriculture."
For state residential property, owners can apply for a reduction in value due to the disaster if they provide a list of destroyed property.
"The law applies to 'any residential real property improvements' but only if such property is unoccupied and uninhabitable due to destruction."
Cole County Assessor Chris Estes said a company has insurance on their building and their business in case their income is lower than expected.
"I can only speculate maybe that's why the legislature didn't give a provision for commercial property or agricultural property," he said.
Even if the commercial building has been demolished, the owner still has to pay full property tax.
"Taxation law requires us to value the property as of January 1st," Estes said.
There is a form for residential owners to claim destroyed property, but this does not account for commercial or agriculture property.
The Mayor of Jefferson City, Carrie Tergin, said she wants to see this change.
"It's very important that we address this issue, I have reached out to our legislators and am interested in working towards some solutions and I hope we can advocate for that," she said.