Assessor’s Office Is Very, Very Busy
Word on the street is that St. Louis County Government is currently getting deluged by phone calls regarding the on-average 22% increases in assessments this year. The Post-Dispatch had a good article on it the other day, and I heard part of (Revenue Director) Gene Leung’s appearance on Charlie Brennan’s show this morning.
I will never forget being on the receiving end of these calls back in 2001, when in response to the reopening of the appeal period after the drive-by assessments scandal, the Council alone received several thousand phone calls in a week. 2005 was also a busy year for helping people with appeals while I was working for Councilman Kurt Odenwald. I think that the only upside to the drive-by assessment scandal was it made many more people aware of the importance of the reassessment notices you get in March / April of odd-numbered years, which, for legitimate reasons, do not include the tax amount owed. Too often people used to ignore the reassessment notices and then wonder what the hell happened when they got their tax bill in November. I believe that now many more people in St. Louis County carefully review their reassessment notices and plan accordingly, whether by appealing, budgeting, lobbying local officials to roll-back the rates properly, or applying for property tax assistance programs.
Property taxes, in general, are not a bad tax. I certainly prefer them to income taxes as a way to fund the necessary doings of government. Every year legislation is introduced in Jefferson City to cap the rates of assessment increase, and every year that legislation fails. I would like to do away with the entire reassessment system by requiring certificates of value to be filed with every property purchase statewide, not just in St. Louis and Kansas City, and then tying assessment increases to the CPI (or even better, a Missouri-specific real estate value index) until the property is sold again. Wham, I just eliminated the entire reassessment process and significant increases in one fell swoop! Isn’t blogging amazing?