The County Line: Assessor Jerry Reynolds preparing for review of property values

Friday, December 17, 2010
County Assessor Jerry Reynolds works at his desk Monday at the County Office Building in Jackson. (Kristin Eberts)

Determining the value of land and property for tax purposes may not always make Cape Girardeau County Assessor Jerry Reynolds the most popular person in the county, but it is an important job that affects county revenue and classification.

Reynolds said his office is preparing to begin another round of assessments in 2011.

"We are required every two years to reassess all the real property every odd-numbered year," he said. "Next year will be a reassessment year. That doesn't mean that everybody's property is going to go up. I don't look for that. The last few years there hasn't been any real increase to speak of."

Reynolds said the basic responsibility of his office is to inventory and assign value to all of the real estate and personal property in the county. Once assessments are complete, his office prepares a book containing all the latest values and submits it to the state assessor.

Reynolds said another part of his office is the mapping and appraising department.

"We maintain maps of all the property of the county. Everybody's property is inventoried and given a parcel ID number," he said.

As property in the county changes ownership, the office updates the necessary information.

"Any type of transfer goes through the recorder's office and we pick those up. If it is a straight transfer, we just change the name on it. If it is a split from another piece of land, we have to map that split and give it a new parcel ID number," he said.

Since taking office in 1977, Reynolds has seen his office and its responsibilities grow. He said probably the most significant change came in 1979 when the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that properties must be reassessed every two years.

"That's when we had to really change things. Before that we didn't have maps to speak of. Once properties went on the books, we didn't change the values very often," he said.

That was how most Missouri counties handled assessments before 1979, and Reynolds said it wasn't a good system for property owners or the government that depended on updated values for tax purposes.

"It got out of hand. It got way, way out of whack. The old properties were on the books for what they were built for and the new ones were going on for what it cost to build them 20 years later. That was not right, so they straightened that out," he said.

The decision gave his office increased duties and a larger staff. In 1977 he supervised a five-member staff, now there are 15 employees in the assessor's office, many with 20 years' experience in the office.

As Cape Girardeau County has grown and expanded, Reynolds said, he has seen the growth in dollars and cents. He said the assessed valuation 33 years ago was around $250 million, but in 2009 it was $1,081,267,247.

The assessor also plays a critical role on the county's board of equalization. A property owner who disagrees with an assessed valuation may come to the board to appeal the determination.

The county assessor's office was created under Chapter 53 of Missouri State statutes. The office's 2010 budget was $187,751.14.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

243-8600

Pertinent Address: 1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

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