Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 126
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for February 14, 2002

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

I was thinking about the various property tax increases that will be on the ballot this year. In the Warrensburg area, we’ll have the library tax and the ambulance district in April and probably the Warrensburg school district in August. Other school districts may also have levies. It got me to wondering exactly how taxes are assessed and what they’re assessed on, so I visited the County Assessor. This, perhaps oversimplified, is what I learned.

Property taxes are assessed on all real property (land and improvements, including homes, businesses and mobile home on owned land) and taxable personal property (notably cars, boats, mobile homes on rented land, business equipment). Real property values are assessed based on recent sales of similar property in an area; farmland is assessed on a scale based on its value as farmland. Then, a multiplier is applied, with residential property assigned a lower value than business property. Personal property is assessed based on standard values for vehicles or reported cost and age for business property.

In Warrensburg, your annual taxes are over 5.3% of the assessed value of your property. If the assessed value of your property (which is less than the real value) was $10,000, you paid about $534 last year, of which $387 went to the school district. If all the taxes on the ballot this year pass, you’ll pay $625 when they all go into effect. You’ll pay $3 to the state, $32 to the county (which also gets sales tax revenue), $33 to the library, $15 to the hospital, $10 for county health services, $12 for the sheltered workshop, $54 for the City and $30 (maybe) for the ambulance service. The remaining $436 would go to the school district.

One of the more interesting things I noted is that the approximately $400,000 per year we put into supporting disadvantaged workers (sheltered workshop) is almost as much as we tax ourselves to support the hospital. While I can see asking for more money for new projects, it has always struck me as odd that when tax collections decrease because of decreased economic activity (a recession), governmental units want a larger share of what remains – to do the same job.

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