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The Assessor's Race and Historic Neighborhoods

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  • Michael Martin
    I wanted to pass along an article in today s Missourian. It details the ordeal my wife and I faced with the county assessor s office 3 years ago and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2008
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      I wanted to pass along an article in today's Missourian. It details the
      ordeal my wife and I faced with the county assessor's office 3 years ago and
      illlustrates why the assessor's race is important to people who own historic
      homes. It's also one reason assessor candidate Barb Bishop recently
      completed several elective courses in how to properly appraise historic and
      unique properties (be sure the link isn't broken):

      http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2008/07/31/tax-squabble-drives-assessor-race/

      The recent discovery that we are all subsidizing the vacant land of large
      developers (e.g. the multimillion dollar 133 acre Kroenke parcel across from
      Mill Creek Elementary, assessed for $4,803.00, 2007 property tax $275.04)
      only makes the situation that much harder to swallow.

      The Columbia Tribune reported our "certificate of value questionnaire"
      nightmare 3 years ago. In a Trib story on that questionnaire a few weeks
      ago, county assessor Tom Schauwecker said "'One sale doesn't make a market,'
      he said. 'One sale wouldn't be sufficient to bring undue scrutiny into any
      one neighborhood.'"

      But this is what the Trib reported back in Nov. 2005, when Mr. Schauwecker
      specifically targeted the Old Southwest, Grasslands, and East Campus for
      huge tax increases during the next reassessment because of our certificate
      of value questionnaire:

      "A dispute between a Columbia homeowner and the Boone County assessor has
      led to a philosophical battle over property values that could lead to
      significantly higher taxes for property owners in the city's oldest
      neighborhoods. At issue is the 1909 historic home Martin purchased about
      three years ago at 206 S. Glenwood Ave. The house sits on a tree-lined,
      brick-paved street with stately, vintage homes just west of downtown.

      After he bought the home, the county assessor's office sent him a
      "certificate of value" questionnaire, and Martin disclosed his purchase
      price of $254,900.

      He didn't know it was a voluntary questionnaire. Unlike most states,
      Missouri does not require homeowners to disclose the purchase price of their
      homes to the assessor, but that's not mentioned on the form. "I thought I
      was following a lawful process," Martin said. When he got his tax bill this
      year, he was shocked to see that the assessor's official appraised value of
      the home jumped from $142,200 to $270,700 - a whopping 90 percent increase
      and his tax bill jumped $1,459, to $3,074.

      The notice sent Martin through the roof. He blamed the certificate of value,
      a voluntary form that only about half of Boone County property owners
      return. "That certificate appears to be hammering us alone, rather than being
      used, as I understood it, as a comparable value indicator for the entire street
      and neighborhood," Martin wrote to the assessor.

      "We made a mistake," Schauwecker said "The next appraisal is 2009, and they'd
      better start saving," Schauwecker said, acknowledging that values in the
      neighborhood appear to be low and that Martin's dispute has drawn his
      attention to the fact.

      The county assessor said appraising 57,135 parcels in the 687-square-mile
      county is a difficult task with a staff of 16 including six field
      inspectors, and he doesn't claim it's a perfect process.

      "Trust me, we're going to get it right next cycle," Schauwecker said.
      Schauwecker's focus is on the Old Southwest and The Grasslands - a combined
      area bounded by West Broadway, West Boulevard, Stadium Boulevard and
      Providence Road - along with the East Campus neighborhood southeast of
      Broadway and College Avenue.

      Martin’s next-door neighbor is architect Brian Pape, who also serves on the
      city’s Historic Preservation Commission. He said Martin has "a valid gripe"
      about his home’s appraisal, but he said "more important is the issue of
      appraising historic properties."

      His 1906 brick home at 202 S. Glenwood Ave. is appraised at $233,100.

      "Old buildings have an intrinsic value to a small percentage of the
      marketplace," he said. "These people pay for a lifestyle that’s not a reflection
      of fair market value. The appraisal process should not penalize people for doing
      that."

      Appraiser Randall Bryson, owner of Associated Property Analysts, agreed that
      market price is not necessarily market value. He said historic homes have a
      unique value, and fair market value would be determined by comparing each
      home with similar historic homes that have sold.

      "Fair market value is what the average knowledgeable person would pay and an
      average knowledgeable person would accept in a reasonable period of time,"
      he said.

      Martin says he has mixed emotions about being a cooperative homebuyer and
      submitting the questionnaire that Schauwecker sent him. Does he regret doing
      it? In terms of doing the right thing, he said, "No."

      "But as far as the financial consequences, yes."
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