Should Missouri Reassess Property Less Often?
There is no reason Missouri could not do just fine if we went through reassessment every three years instead of every two. I’m serious, here. Today, Combest linked to a story from the Rolla Daily News about budget cuts in the state’s assessment reimbursement fund. Every county gets repaid by the state for a portion of its assessment costs, because county assessors value property for many entities other than just the county. School districts, fire districts, state government itself (for the blind pension fund), cities, and many other governments utilize property taxes based on the county assessments. So, now that we have that straight, what do we think about cuts to the assessment fund?
It’s perfectly fine with me. In tough budget times, the state has to cut spending somewhere, and assessors deserve the cuts just like everyone else. (I am fully aware of the mistaken Keynesian arguments in favor of increasing government spending at all levels right now.) The assessor in Phelps County is complaining that the cuts to the reimbursement fund — from $6 per parcel to $4 — leave him hanging:
Rasmussen said actual per-parcel, assessment-maintenance expenses amount to $28.48. Assessment maintenance includes the actual assessment, pricing new construction projects, assessing all personal property in the mobile-home count and keeping parcel ownerships current.
I have proposed a perfectly reasonable method of residential assessment, based on very common real estate property indices, that would substantially lower the cost of doing assessments. It would also make the job of the Phelps County assessor easier, and thereby less expensive, if they adopted the certificate of value method, like in St. Louis, but we all know that won’t happen. If the residents of rural Missouri don’t want certificates of value to be filed when homes are sold, that is fine with me, but they have to realize their rejection of that method might increase the local taxes they have to pay for their assessments.
But why do we have to do the assessments? I see no problem with amending the state law to allow for reassessment every three years instead of every two, allowing for some caveats, because you probably do want to do a reassessment after each census when you have the most accurate information available. I really doubt anyone would complain if, after 2011, the next assessment does not take place until 2014. I certainly wouldn’t.