JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Growing complaints about the way property assessment values are determined took center stage during a Missouri House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday.
State Rep. Jeff Coleman (R-Grain Valley) has proposed legislation he believes would address those concerns. Coleman would like the state constitution amended so the state can set assessed values at the selling price of a property and then cap any increases at a rate no higher than the Consumer Price Index, a measurement of inflation.
“We are just eliminating this broken system of not knowing exactly what it’s going to be,” he said.
Coleman cited a recent property assessment debacle in Jackson County, where he said property assessment increases ranged from nothing to 1,400 percent. He believes capping increases would help those on fixed incomes to be able to stay in their homes without the fear of not being able to afford the taxes in the event of an unexpected assessment hike.
“We have our county assessors coming to us and telling us what our property value is worth,” said Coleman. “We don’t even know for sure that’s the true value.”
There are groups opposed to Coleman’s proposals. Representatives from the Columbia and Springfield Public Schools traveled to Jefferson City to testify against capping home value assessments.
“Any type of cap limitation that we put on assessed valuation increases could heavily affect our budget,” said Heather McCarthur, CFO for the Columbia School District. “Over half of our $230 million budget comes from property taxes.”
“That’s what we depend on to pay teachers on a regular basis and to pay the debt on the buildings that our local taxpayers have authorized,” said John Jungmann, Springfield Public School Superintendent.
Coleman told lawmakers school districts can always make the case to voters if they need more money. Officials for school districts say relying on an unpredictable vote to balance a budget is not a good idea.