St. Louis Public Radio News
6:41 am
Thu February 26, 2009

Mo. lawmakers back "predictable" property tax

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri House and Senate members are co-sponsoring bills that would create a "predictable" property tax for homeowners.

The legislation would limit tax assessments for homeowners to either two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Republican Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

"Several (people) have told me that their property taxes exceed the mortgage payments they actually had to buy the home...some are trying to sell their homes and can't even sell them," Cunningham said.

The bill would also allow homeowners to get second appraisals from the private sector if they disagree with their county assessor's appraisal.

Critics include Penny Rector with the Missouri Council of School Administrators. She says the bill could cut too deep into the amount of revenue collected for schools, fire districts, and other public services.

"If we have less money coming in at the local level, then that burden is shifted back to the state, and (it) certainly would be very difficult for the state at this time to have that shift occur if our (current) financial condition in the state were to continue," Rector said.

Rector suggests that capping appraisals at two percent or the rate of inflation could conflict with a provision in the Missouri Constitution that requires property to be assessed on its true value.

If passed, the new appraisal guidelines would only apply to homeowners, not commercial property.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill that mandates rollbacks of property tax rates during reassessment years.