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Columbia Missourian

Letter: Barbara Bishop, running for county assessor, seeks changes to local taxes

By Michael J. Martin, Columbia
June 26, 2008 | 2:10 p.m. CDT

A recent redesign of County Assessor Tom Schauwecker’s Web site looks like he ripped a page from his opponent Barbara Bishop’s playbook!

Here’s what Mrs. Bishop, a Democratic candidate for county assessor, posted on her blog,, this past April and has been talking about publicly since: “My opponent uses a poorly advertised informal office appeal for taxpayers to appeal their taxes. It’s legal, but few people know about it. Those who do have an unfair advantage. I’ve only seen it mentioned in the Columbia Tribune once in 10 years. I want to make sure that all appeals processes are open, well-advertised and transparent.”

In late May, a first-time-ever “guide to property tax appeals” that even uses the term “informal hearings” suddenly appeared on the county assessor’s official Web site. In a tongue-in-cheek note, Mrs. Bishop congratulated her opponent for taking her advice.

“I’m making change and I’m not even elected!” she quips on her blog.

Offering a well-qualified choice for change is what Barb Bishop is all about. As a certified real estate appraiser with 13 years experience, Barb wants accurate assessments based on precision appraisals. For instance, she says a senior citizen living in her paid-off home shouldn’t be assessed the same as the landlord next door. The landlord’s house makes money; the senior’s house saves money.

Barb wants to re-examine the use of Vehicle Identification Numbers to tax cars and trucks, a major policy change Mr. Schauwecker made by himself, with no discussion and without a vote of the people or the county commission. Vehicle taxes soared all around Boone County.

“I believe in Taxation WITH Representation,” Barb says.

She’d also like to see the Boone County Board of Equalization -— the first stop for property tax appeals — composed entirely of citizens who aren’t employed by the county.

“In all first class counties not having a charter form of government, there may be a board of equalization consisting of three taxpaying property-owning citizens, who shall be appointed by the county commission,” says the Missouri Revised Statute.

The county commission appoints themselves and the county assessor to the board. After all, they’re taxpaying, property-owning citizens, right?

Wrong, says Barb Bishop. “That’s like the foxes guarding the henhouse,” she says.

Which is one reason I say, vote Barbara Bishop for county assessor in the Democratic primary on Aug. 5.