County assessor: Property values will be stagnant

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | 11:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 29, 2009

COLUMBIA — Property taxes for Columbia residents are rising a bit this year, but Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker said valuations will remain the same.

The assessor generally re-evaluates property during odd-numbered years. Because the real estate market in Columbia has flattened, however, Schauwecker said his office won't reassess this year, leaving valuations at their 2007 numbers. New construction is the obvious exception.


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Property taxes are a product of the property's assessed valuation multiplied by the tax rate. Some tax districts, such as Columbia Public Schools, raised property tax rates this year while others, such as Boone County, did not.

That means any changes in property taxes this year will be the result of tax rate changes, not assessed valuations.

Schauwecker said that a year ago he figured property values would increase in 2009, but the recession brought uncertainty.

"I've never seen a market like this," he said. "I'm trying to get my arms around it."

McDonald County Assessor Laura Pope, who is vice president of the Missouri State Assessors Association, said Schauwecker's response has been the norm in Missouri this year.

"Most of us did the same thing," she said, adding that her region of southwest Missouri was an exception. Assessments actually rose there.

Columbia Board of Realtors chief executive officer Carol Van Gorp agreed that home prices have remained relatively flat in this area.

"Another way of saying that is they're real stable," she said.

Schauwecker said assessments aren't necessarily based on sale price but rather on market value. Foreclosures, in particular, can skew the data toward lower values because foreclosed properties sell for much less than the market value.

For example, on Ballentine Lane, a house sold for about $167,000 after foreclosure this year. Last year, a similar house next door sold for $230,000, Schauwecker said. There had been 195 foreclosures in Columbia through August of this year; last year, there were 307 home foreclosures in Columbia.

Van Gorp said the stimulus tax credit for first-time home-buyers has also brought down median sale values because more people than usual were able to buy their first homes.

The board said the median value of a single-family home sold in Columbia has dropped $16,400 since August 2007, t0 $161,500. 

Schauwecker said the market's instability makes it hard to predict what housing prices will do in two years, the next time the county is due to reassess property.

"I don't have a crystal ball," he said.

The preliminary total property valuation value for the county, including real estate and personal property, is $2.3 billion.

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Allan Sharrock September 29, 2009 | 11:33 a.m.

I am sure the heartbeat will have a comment coming soon. lol

(Report Comment)
John Williams September 29, 2009 | 1:01 p.m.

You know, Columbia is a great place to live, taxes are fair based on other places I've lived.

I own a company and get a tax bill each year for the business property I own.

If I were not an honest person, I wouldn't have to let Tom know what taxable equipment I own, but that's not really my point.

The lawn company who mows my grass recently told me that he or any other mowing company does not have to declare their mowers as business strange. In this guys case, his business owns the equipment, not him personally.

I thought to myself, with these commercial mowers costing in many cases over 10K per copy, how much tax revenue is Boone County overlooking just from mowing companies?

Next time you drive around Columbia look at the back of some of these mowing companies trailers.

What's the business tax on 20-30K? That's what we in Boone County lose each year to each one of these companies.

(Report Comment)
K hoskins September 29, 2009 | 1:28 p.m.

"For example, on Ballentine Lane, a house sold for about $167,000 after foreclosure this year. Last year, a similar house next door sold for $230,000, Schauwecker said."

The quote above is reason enough for re-assessment.

(Report Comment)
K hoskins September 29, 2009 | 1:29 p.m.


(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 29, 2009 | 1:48 p.m.

The problem with demanding a county-wide reassessment is that my understanding is the school districts and other taxing entities are allowed by state law to not see a dip in their tax receipts due to a dip in home prices. If anyone can speak to this better than I can, I would be interested to know if I am understanding that scenario correctly.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 29, 2009 | 6:02 p.m.

"I am sure the heartbeat will have a comment coming soon. lol"

So Allan Sharrock, what's your point and why is it funny (LOL)?

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 29, 2009 | 6:15 p.m.

You always have a comment when the assessor makes the paper. It never fails.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 29, 2009 | 7:46 p.m.

"You always have a comment when the assessor makes the paper. It never fails."

So what? Listen, I'm not poking fun at your unsuccessful run for city council, so don't take shots at me when I stand up for something I think is important.

Fair enough?

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 29, 2009 | 8:14 p.m.

Fine I won't go there again. Although I am not really sore about losing, it was a good run.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 29, 2009 | 9:02 p.m.

No one should ever be sore or be made to feel bad about exercising their right of free speech, which includes your campaign and my editorials on Mr. Schauwecker.

In the 4-year history of this assessor debate, you'll find that Mr. Schauwecker has taken a ton of heat for past inequities, including giving large developers huge property tax breaks, and using the so-called "VIN method" of taxing cars and trucks.

These issues came to a head during the last election cycle, when he ran against Barb Bishop (who, as a complete unknown, polled around 6,000 of 14,000 votes).

I'm proud of what I've said about Mr. Schauwecker, and I'm pleased to hear he's listening to his constituents. I said as much in a recent edition of the Columbia Heart Beat.

Anyone who has a problem with any of that needs to ask themselves what it means to be an American and what it means to fight the good fight with words and ideas rather than weapons and wars.

-- Mike Martin

(Report Comment)
Roseann Moring October 21, 2009 | 6:44 p.m.

Mr. Schultz,
Thanks for the information, and sorry for the late reply! I've clarified the issue of tax roll-ups on decreased valuations here:

Roseann Moring

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 21, 2009 | 8:13 p.m.

Thanks for the clarification Roseann!

(Report Comment)

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