Senator Ridgeway responds to County Assessor Rinehart’s letter

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Clay County Politicians in the News
Tags: , , , ,

It seems that Ms. Rinehart has aggravated our elected officials in Jefferson City. This is probably because she published the phone numbers and email addresses of our elected officials on the back of her letter and then encouraged all Clay County officials to contact them regarding her silly proposals. What’s funny, or sad, depending upon your perspective I guess, Ms. Rinehart never managed to contact any of them in the first place about her proposal. One would think, or maybe it’s just me, but if I was Ms. Rinehart I would have contacted them in the first place. It might have been productive to have actually asked them, hey, what do you think about this idea to change property tax law? Then they would have taken the time to research her proposals, give their input (you see they are actually the ones that have to propose the law change), and then recommended what they thought was a good idea. Oh well, I have learned lately we do things that fly in the face of logic here in Clay County.

Thank you for contacting my office about a letter you recently received from the Clay County Assessor. This letter was sent to all personal property taxpayers in our county.

I think the letter was a little misleading in that it implied that state law now requires some new standard for valuing your used autos. This is not correct. The truth is, the law requiring all county assessors to use a widely accepted consistent market based guide has been the case for a number of years. There have been no recent changes. Further, within the range of values provided by the NADA guide, our assessor has a great deal of latitude in determining the actual value of our vehicles. This means that your assessor can choose to value your damaged 6 year old vehicle as a vehicle in “clean” condition, or “average” condition, which will cause you to pay higher taxes than if the car was valued in its true “rough” condition.

A second action our assessor is pursuing would be to change the Constitution to instruct Missouri’s Department of Motor Vehicles to charge property owners by weight, rather than actual value. This would result in vehicles never decreasing in assessed value. A 1976 pick-up truck would always have higher taxes than a brand new BMW because the old pickup will always weigh more than the new BMW. This just doesn’t make sense. I assure you that I will not increase your property taxes by moving to change our Constitution to determine car value by weight.

After a thorough investigation into this matter, I want to encourage you to make yourself aware of the worth of your vehicle, according to the county assessor. The more important issue at hand is a lack of transparency in the assessment process.

It is my belief that our assessor should be required to provide us with a “statement of value” for each vehicle we are taxed on. If the assessor says your car is worth $10,000, there is no notice to you of the value, you simply get the tax bill. When the assessor is required to show how much each vehicle is valued at, you will be able to judge for yourself if you think our assessor is being fair. You would also be empowered to fight an unfair valuation of your vehicle through an appeal process.

Thank you for bringing this letter to my attention. Please call Cathy Rinehart, the Clay County Assessor at (816) 407-3500 to find out the exact dollar value she has assessed your vehicle at. If you do not believe that your vehicle is worth the value she has placed on your vehicle, please pursue appropriate appeals immediately as time deadlines may prevent you from appealing if you delay. Please let me know if you have further questions about your property taxes or have difficulty appealing an inappropriate assessment.

Sincerely,

Senator Luann Ridgeway

Thank you for contacting my office about a letter you recently received from the Clay County Assessor. This letter was sent to all personal property taxpayers in our county.

I think the letter was a little misleading in that it implied that state law now requires some new standard for valuing your used autos.  This is not correct. The truth is, the law requiring all county assessors to use a widely accepted consistent market based guide has been the case for a number of years. There have been no recent changes. Further, within the range of values provided by the NADA guide, our assessor has a great deal of latitude in determining the actual value of our vehicles.  This means that your assessor can choose to value your damaged 6 year old vehicle as a vehicle in “clean” condition, or “average” condition, which will cause you to pay higher taxes than if the car was valued in its true “rough” condition.

A second action our assessor is pursuing would be to change the Constitution to instruct Missouri’s Department of Motor Vehicles to charge property owners by weight, rather than actual value. This would result in vehicles never decreasing in assessed value. A 1976 pick-up truck would always have higher taxes than a brand new BMW because the old pickup will always weigh more than the new BMW.  This just doesn’t make sense.   I assure you that I will not increase your property taxes by moving to change our Constitution to determine car value by weight.

After a thorough investigation into this matter, I want to encourage you to make yourself aware of the worth of your vehicle, according to the county assessor.  The more important issue at hand is a lack of transparency in the assessment process.

It is my belief that our assessor should be required to provide us with a “statement of value” for each vehicle we are taxed on. If the assessor says your car is worth $10,000, there is no notice to you of the value, you simply get the tax bill. When the assessor is required to show how much each vehicle is valued at, you will be able to judge for yourself if you think our assessor is being fair.  You would also be empowered to fight an unfair valuation of your vehicle through an appeal process.

Thank you for bringing this letter to my attention. Please call Cathy Rinehart, the Clay County Assessor at (816) 407-3500 to find out the exact dollar value she has assessed your vehicle at. If you do not believe that your vehicle is worth the value she has placed on your vehicle, please pursue appropriate appeals immediately as time deadlines may prevent you from appealing if you delay.  Please let me know if you have further questions about your property taxes or have difficulty appealing an inappropriate assessment.

Sincerely,

Senator Luann Ridgeway

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