(Cartoon by John Logan)
Ozark Mountain Newspaper's Eastern Taney County Correspondent Vonda Sheets wrote in interesting editorial published in the Branson Daily Independent today regarding the Taney County Tax Assessor's "debacle with the Missouri State Tax Commission." Here's a little background and information from an interview we conducted with Western Taney County Commissioner Ron Herschend.
On Monday, at the Taney County Courthouse, Taney County Assessor James Strahan will scold Taney County Commissioners Ron Herschend and Chuck Pennel who aren't interested in bankrolling the Assessor's office while litigation ensues.
The State Tax Commission contends James "I'm not a puppet of the state" Strahan is undervaluing property on State Records. Strahan believes he's within the legal guidelines and the failure of the state to cont
At $30,000 a month Western Taney County Commissioner Ron Herschend believes funding the assessor's fight is irresponsible to taxpayers. The Taney County Commission filed a lawsuit on the assessor's office behalf in Taney County this summer. The 38th Circuit Judge, the honorable Mark Orr, changed venues to Cole County and Herschend doesn't believe enough effort has been made to resolve the matter. Herschend says only 17 hours were billed by legal counsel hired to resolve the matter.
Losing the home turf advantage doesn't make the situation look too promising either.
In January, Strahan expressed his belief that Western Taney County property values were overinflated by West Coast investors.
In Missouri, real estate transactions aren't reported when the tiles are exchanged. Many list the sale price as $1 and other valuable consideration. As a result property tax assessments aren't based off real estate transaction figures. Many believe this is a good thing fearing corporations buying and selling real estate through partner companies could boost property tax to an unjustifiable level if assessments were based of stated property purchase amounts .
It's generally perceived that assesments in Taney County are low. While preparing their case the State Tax Commission hired an area appraiser to supply figures.
Levies were rolled back by the Branson School Board and the City of Branson this year. Hollister residents experienced a slight increase.
County sales tax coffers were increased by $2 million dollars this year though that hasn't discouraged the Taney County Commission from attempting to grab another $90 million for their operating budget through a new taxed being proposed which will go to voters as proposition A.
Layoffs will occur as they did in December 2006 if the commissioners vote to discontinue funding the state's portion of the assessor's office.
James Strahan's brother Eastern Taney County Commissoner Danny Strahan is the only member of the commission in support of continued funding - the other two are unlikely to sway from their posture after pleas are heard Monday morning.
Opinion: The special interest elements to the tax being proposed make Proposition A unreasonable.
Strahan's battling with a double-edged sword. It seems that our bureaucrats are going to tax us one way or another. If property values are assessed at half the actual value - which many would assess (excuse the pun) - it would seem advantageous to raise their book value and lower tax rates - a strong selling point to real estate investors.