WHAT OTHERS SAY: Luxury living for seniors, at taxpayers' expense

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 12:55 p.m. CDT

Missouri House Bill 2035 could be Exhibit A in how the Missouri legislature coddles special interests at the expense of the public. Every year the legislature runs through several alphabets-worth of such exhibits.

HB 2035, sponsored by Rep. Mike Leara, R-St. Louis County, is a sweetheart deal for the operators of fancy senior-living centers. They may be organized as not-for-profits, but that only means that the profits are plowed into high salaries and more amenities.

Better chefs. More obsequious concierges. Fancier pools. Nice if you can afford them, even better when school districts, library districts and fire districts are subsidizing them.

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman says they should pay property taxes. But some of them have exemptions from local assessors. The Post-Dispatch reported last year that some properties owned by Bethesda Health Group and Lutheran Senior Services avoided $3.1 million in taxes in 2012. They are marketed as luxury senior living; entry fees can run more than $500,000.

The centers claim that because they offer “charity care” to some residents who run through their savings paying high assessments, they ought to be tax-exempt. We’ll buy that when they open up, say, a fourth of their rooms for seniors who only have Medicaid and Medicare.

Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.

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