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County tax rate decrease not enough for some residents

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A move by the St. Louis County Council to decrease a portion of its property tax rate is not calming residents who want to change the way the county determines the value of their houses.

The council last night unanimously approved a measure that cuts the rate levied to pay off debt by 3.5 cents. It could save the owner of a $200,000 home about $13 a year.

But some homeowners at an often raucous council meeting said the cut does nothing when the value of their homes has skyrocketed artificially over the last two years. Robyn Hamlin bought her two bedroom home in Spanish Lake six years ago for $96,000.

"I have not done any major improvements," she said. "I put a chicken-wire fence up. My house appraisal right now? $187,000."

Republican council member Greg Quinn sympathized with the frustration of Hamlin and other speakers. "I believe that in order for the St. Louis County assessment process to be fair, there's going to have to be a substantial reduction in assessments this year," he said to applause.

County officials plan to change the way they assess the value of homes for the 2009 tax bills, but they cannot say how much tax bills will decrease.


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