Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 91
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for June 14, 2001

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

County real property reassessment notices came out the other day. Using the reassessment notice and the receipt for the property tax we paid last December, we can see how we’re affected. The first step is easy: look at the “assessed valuation” column on the tax receipt and compare it with the “assessed valuation” line on the card. Use your calculator to subtract the old figure from the new one, then divide by the old one. This is the percent your assessment increased and is an indicator of how much your taxes might increase.

But wait, we voters passed something called the “Hancock Amendment” to keep government from taking an ever-growing share of our money without our permission. This wise rule prevents local property tax revenues on existing properties from growing more rapidly than general price levels. However, the rule (found in the Missouri Constitution, Article X, Section 22) is complex. Essentially, if the assessed valuation of existing increases faster than the increase in the general price level from the previous year, the levy is rolled back to give each taxing body the same gross revenue from existing property, adjusted for inflation.

That’s fine overall, but the rate rollback is applied across the board. If your property is in a popular area where prices are rapidly rising, you’ll likely see an increase, while those in stagnant areas may not. I visited the Assessor’s office to try to find out the average increase in value of existing property, but the data wasn’t available yet. If your property value increased by more than the average increase, this reassessment will increase your taxes.

Another kicker is the ‘blank check’ voters handed the Warrensburg R-VI school district a couple of years ago. Voters gave the school board permission to raise taxes without a further vote, depending on whether they think they’re getting enough money from the state sales tax. Voters also increased the fire district levy in much of the county.

My advice is to compare your new and old assessments. If you don’t like your new assessment, go visit the Assessor’s office. If you don’t like your tax rates, quit voting for new taxes.

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