Dreadful Assessment Lawsuit in Platte County
A simply atrocious lawsuit has been filed in Platte County (which includes part of Kansas City), according to the St. Joseph News-Press, regarding the assessment of a power plant there. You might think, from the opposition, that the power plant had received a tax exemption, or a TIF, or a CID, but no. People are complaining — and suing — because the new plants were assessed at a reduced rate while they were under construction.
If you go out and build your dream home with a worth of $500,000, should your county begin taxing you at a rate based on a half-million dollar property as soon as you lay the cornerstone, or wait until the house is completed and you move in? I have to believe that every single person reading this (which is a very large number of people, I trust), thinks the full assessment should start when the house is complete. In Missouri, in fact, that is exactly how it works. The full assessment applies according to the date of the final passing inspection / occupancy permit / utility hookup, and the annual taxes are prorated for that year. (Unlike cars or boats, which are taxed as of Jan. 1, real estate can be prorated for taxes; also, the land would have been fully taxable during contruction.) Presumably, the land for the power plants was fully assessed during the construction, and the building was assessed at 50 percent (the article does not make a distinction). That seems perfectly reasonable to me. Now that the project is finished, the company is paying taxes based on its full assessment. Anyway, the final decision should rest with the voters who elect, or unelect, the assessor — not on a lawsuit.
The single silliest (putting it nicely) statement in the article belongs to one of the lawyers in the case:
“It’s been difficult for school districts to have a voice in the assessment process,”
I will gladly stand corrected if anyone can show me one place anywhere in Missouri law that says school districts are supposed to have a voice in assessments — or any taxing district of any type, for that matter. TIF commissions and tax exemptions are not an answer to this challenge; they deal with rates and abatements, not assessments. Assessors are supposed to be independent, so that they can set market assessments as fairly as possible, from which various taxing districts can set their rates. School districts are in no way, shape, or form supposed to have a voice in those valuation decisions. It is just an unbelievable statement.