Assessed values up in two counties

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Reassessment is almost complete in area counties, with some property owners already receiving notices in the mail.

Property values have increased, assessors said, but not by the dramatic jumps being reported in urbanized areas around St. Louis, where home values have increased on average 22 percent and, in some cases, up to 90 percent.

In Cape Girardeau County, Assessor Jerry Reynolds said the average home assessment will increase 7 or 8 percent, with some increasing 10 percent or a little more. None will reach the 15 percent threshold that would require an on-site visit to verify the assessor's records.

Scott County has also seen increasing property values, but the increases are generally less than those in Cape Girardeau County. Assessor Teresa Houchin said the assessed value of most residential property increased 2 to 5 percent over the last assessment two years ago. The assessments are based on the market value of properties in the county.

All assessments are based on sales of comparable properties where possible, Reynolds said, but in the case of expensive homes, finding comparisons is difficult.

"We have yet to find a home that sold for $1 million in Cape Girardeau County," he said. "We know that some cost that much to build, but none were sold."

The owners of properties that have been assessed with an increased value will receive a notice in the mail. In Cape Girar-deau County, the notices will be sent to anyone whose property's assessed value increased by more than $500, Reynolds said. The notices should be sent by the end of next week, he said.

In Scott County, the notices are already in the mail, Houchin said.

An increased assessment of $500 is not a tax bill and represents an increase in the appraised value of the home by about $2,500, Reynolds said.

"Some people will get this notice and think it is a tax bill," Reynolds said. "That is not the case."

When a property owner receives a notice, there are several avenues for raising objections, starting with an informal hearing at the assessor's office. Anyone unsatisfied can file an appeal with their county's Board of Equalization. The board includes the three county commissioners and the assessor, with the county clerk recording the meeting.

The Board of Equalization begins meeting the first Monday in June and works until it has finished hearing all the appeals.

A landowner who is still not satisfied can appeal to the State Tax Commission and beyond to the circuit courts. The problems in St. Louis have led to long lines at informal hearings and are likely to result in lengthy Board of Equalization hearings.

No assessment appeals were registered in Cape Girardeau County two years ago, Reynolds said, but one person did come in to have the acreage listed on his tax rolls changed to reflect the true acreage.

The county's tax rolls must be complete by July because in September school districts and political subdivisions will set their levies, determining how much property tax owners will pay.

Houchin said the areas of Scott County that experienced the biggest rise in property values were in the Scott City and Benton areas. An increase of 4 to 8 percent is desirable, Houchin said.

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