Higher property taxes blamed on low commercial property values - KMOV.com

Higher property taxes blamed on low commercial property values

(KMOV.com) -- As Missouri's commercial property tax assessments fall Missouri school tax revenues take a hit and it may affect individual home tax rates.

Many residents were outraged when they heard a St. Louis County board cut millions from the assessed value of two casinos, drastically cutting their tax bill.  It shines a light on a bigger problem.  Property assessments are down all over and that means less money for schools.

The Affton, Missouri school district decided on Tuesday to set their new tax rate, but all other school districts in Missouri will have until the end of September to set their property tax rate.

They cannot raise it high enough to increase the amount of money they get from property taxes without a vote, but if districts do not raise the rate, their funding will drop.  By raising that rate, as Affton did, some homeowners will get a bigger tax bill even though the value of their property went down.

Approximately 80% of the Affton school district's revenue comes from property taxes, so when property values go down, it can have a huge impact.  The school board voted this week to increase it's property tax rate to offset a drop in assessed value of property in the district.

Residential property value went down 4.5% and commercial went down 7.5%.  Since commercial property value dropped more than residential, less taxes will come from businesses and more from homeowners.  Not all homeowners will see a tax increase, but some will.

John Brazeal with the Affton School District said, "Homeowners who had a large decrease in property value won't, but if you saw only a small decrease, your taxes will probably go up."

So, you can blame any tax increase for homeowners can be blamed on a higher drop in commercial real estate values, resulting in lower taxes for some businesses.

Right now, school districts are grappling with the decision to raise rates to maintain the current level of revenue or not raise rates and deal with the budget cuts.

Taxes normally generated from two area casinos is the main concern for residents.  Those casinos had tax cuts of nearly 50%.  News 4 spoke to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and asked him if he was concerned that all major companies in the county might see the casino's assessments as a way for them to also have their taxes lowered.

Dooley said, "I am speaking to one issue.  The casinos there were some sort of inequity and we need to work it out.  If I were the fire protection district, the schools, I would be upset as well.  The process did not work for them and we need to straighten that out.  The outcome is unacceptable and that's a fact."

We asked the County Executive about that fact and he said, "I am asking the board to reconvene because we need to straighten this out because, right now, it's not working for anybody."

Within 30 minutes after News 4's interview with Dooley, he sent out a letter addressed to the Board of Equalization asking it to re-examine its decision.

Unfortunately for residents receiving higher tax assessments, it appears the assessments will stand until other agreements can be made.

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