Mike Slack’s Oregon County Property Tax Appeal

Posted: July 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Below is the information Mike Slack of the Commonsense PRC, will be sharing with the Oregon County Equalization Board on the extreme increase in property taxes in Oregon County. He asked that it be shared with you in case you also have an appeal hearing set.

When I bought my property in 2009 the banker wanted to use an appraisal from 2005. My response was why not the 1934 appraisal from the last depression as it had the same relevance. I had a new appraisal done and it was one third lower than the 2005. Since then my land value has either remained the same or gone down. The assessor is not taking into account, and never has, problems with plumbing and electrical that will cost me at least $8,000 to correct; lack of insulation that will cost $4,000 or the fact that I live in a trailer house and that trailers –like cars and unlike brick and mortar homes – depreciate every year. Additionally he has listed too much of my land as residential and too little as agricultural. He has never, in my ownership, visited the property. Stopping on the highway in front of the property does not count as an evaluation.
Oregon County is the poorest county in the state and one of the three lowest in land resale value. I am including a letter of professional opinion from Real Estate Broker Bob Parker, who has 30 years’ experience in the field and is himself a farmer. Bob believes most property in our area is worth 20% less than it was before 2007, the last time we had a tax increase. By that logic we need a tax decrease.
The State Tax Commission in my conversation with them indicated that we were 20% out of compliance with their figures. They want a 20% increase. I believe they are using a cookie cutter system that may work for Jefferson City but does not work for Oregon County. Somehow this cookie cutter approach has resulted in larger increases than 20%. My taxes went up 50%. Friends have gone up 90, 100 and even 300 %. This is unacceptable, unjust and immoral. This will especially hit hard older people on social security and the disabled. This is a very non-Christian tax increase. Some of you are pastors. Ask yourself how Jesus would view this increase.
Our Assessor has stated to news media and others than the tax increase will only average 11%. Where is he getting these figures? Is he not reading his own assessment letters using basic arithmetic? He has also stated that he is not running for office again and will retire in 2016. I submit that he has already retired while still coming into the office every day. The Tax Commission, following state law, withheld more than $28,000 from the county last year because he did not have an increase OR WRITTEN JUSTIFICATION TO NOT HAVE AN INCREASE. A portion of that increase is in Bob Parker’s letter. I initially thought the Tax Commission were villains here. I’m still not fond of them and will encourage Rep Pogue to submit a bill taking away some of their excessive power, but if our assessor had been doing his job this situation would not have arisen. He has tried to pass the buck with stories that shift, one of them being that he is under a court order to raise taxes. That is not true. Knowing that state law requires a physical appraisal of all property being increased by more than 15% he told local media he had consulted a state attorney who told him he didn’t have to worry about that law due to his manpower shortages and having made a “good faith effort.” Think about it. He doesn’t have to follow the law because a lawyer told him he didn’t have to. What if I robbed a convenience store, got caught and told the judge that my lawyer said it was ok? It would not hold water, and neither does his story. The state and the county both MUST FOLLOW THE LAW.  The people who demonstrated in front of the court house last week should have made that point clear. There were 40 people demonstrating. Generally business assume that for every complaint there are 100 people with the same complaint who have not taken the trouble to make their voices heard. By that logic half of the county was represented last week. If the law is not followed those people will file a class action law suit against the county and file a complaint with the Attorney General for selective enforcement. We will also call for the immediate resignation or impeachment of the Assessor and will notify the media. That’s the worst case scenario and it only occurs if blatant lawlessness and incompetence continues.
Senator Mike Cunningham and Rep Jeff Pogue have agreed to act as intermediaries between us and the Tax Commission if we wish. My proposal which Cunningham agrees with, and Pogue’s assistant believes he will agree with is this:
Raise taxes 10% this year on average and 10% next year on average reaching the Tax Commission’s desired 20%. Cunningham and Pogue will propose the Tax Comm accept this compromise and release the $28,000. With this simple agreement the Property Rights Coalition and other parties WILL NOT pursue legal action because the COUNTY WILL BE FOLLOWING THE LAW. We will not demand the resignation of the assessor but will encourage him to actually perform his duties and earn his paycheck.  And, the county will not have the expense of appraisals on every piece of property.
I believe this solution is more than fair and encourage all parties to approve it.
Michael Don Slack, Oregon County Property Owner
Co-chair, Commonsense Property Rights Coalition
Bob Parker Letter Follows:
To whom it may concern,
My name is Bob Parker and I sell Real Estate with Baker Realty in Willow Springs, Missouri. I was asked to provide my opinion on  the real estate values in the Southern Missouri Ozarks area which I work in. I have personally sold many tracts of land all across our area, The area we sell in is primarily North to Rolla, East to Van Buren, West to Branson, and South to the Arkansas line.  I have a closing today on a 274 acre ranch near Forsyth and have a 40 acre small farm/hunting property closing in a couple of weeks just North of Willow Springs. Our office has probably sold more acres of land than nearly any other office in the area in the last two years.
Homes in town have dropped in price since the crash of 2008 but are gaining back some value. I would estimate home are selling for about 80% of what they sold for in 2007.
Raw timberland and hunting property. This market has been extremely slow but has picked up in the last few months. If it has good saw timber on it the market is good, but few tracts are available. Cutover land and marginal timber land has dropped since 2007 also. It is still down 20% approximately from then in my opinion.
Homes with trailers and acreage are down from 2007 about 20% or so. I have sold several properties with trailers over the years and the sellers always seem to think they should bring as much or more than when they bought them. Trailers depreciate much faster than stick built home and financing is a big problem as banks require large down payments and usually must know the clients well.
The market that has done well is cattle ranches. Cattle ranches with good grass and over 500 acres have done well and some are even bringing more now than 2007 levels. They are extremely hard to find now as most have sold. I have seen some recent sales this year bringing all-time highs, 20% over past prices for well improved ranches with good water, home, and working facilities and outbuildings.
The small cattle ranches and the hobby farm market has been our bread and butter in the past but it has been slow due to buyers in other states not being able to sell homes for a decent price to pay off the mortgage and move to the Ozarks with extra cash. It has been a struggle and prices are still down 20% on these properties in general.
Finally, new home building is nearly at a standstill around the Ozarks as it’s much cheaper to buy than build. Existing homes do not sell even close to what is would cost to replace them.
Bob Parker
Bob Parker, Sales

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