I am finding this to be a big concern for Callaway County residents. I have talked to dozens of residents who are confused and have questions. I have seen the letters and heard concerns. I am offering to sit in an appeal and see what is happening. I have seen local farmers lose their Agriculture land thus increasing their taxes. I have talked to man who bought his house 5 years ago and has had his taxes increased dated back to 1996 after he bought his property. As a resident of Callaway County I too am concerned about this sudden tax increase.....or error by Callaway County Assessor Jody Paschal.
Property assessment jumps surprise Callaway residents
Callaway County Assessor Jody Paschal's office just finished sending out more than 9,000 property valuation reassessment notices. Now, he's busy adjusting those assessments for Callaway County residents who feel their properties have been overvalued.
By Helen Wilbers /News Tribune.
A number of Callaway County residents have been left reeling after receiving their new property assessments.
According to a press release from the Callaway County Commission and county Assessor Jody Paschal, "Callaway County was out of compliance with the Missouri State Tax Commission and, therefore, was mandated to raise values to actual market values."
That didn't ease Fulton resident James Bamber's surprise after opening his notice.
"All of them went up, and I had one that went up by 62 percent," he said.
Bamber owns several properties in Callaway County, most are in Fulton except for one in New Bloomfield. According to him, at least one of the properties had been improved since the last assessment, but the giant jump in assessment still came as a shock.
Bamber contacted the county assessor's office with his concerns.
"In a nutshell, all my properties went up by a significant amount, but when I called Jody, Jody was very good and worked with me," he said. "The first thing he asked me was would I be able to sell the house for that amount; and in every case except for two I felt like I would not."
According to Bamber, Paschal lowered the valuation on his properties to what Bamber considers a reasonable amount.
"It still ended up going quite a bit, but it was undervalued to begin with," Bamber admitted.
While Bamber's satisfied with the way his experience turned out, he's concerned about others in Callaway County who may have received a higher assessed value.
"Those people that get the notice in the mail and just ignore it if my property's any indication, their value might not be fair," he said.
He encourages everyone to check their notice and contact Paschal if it seems too high.
"Jody is there to work with you, not against you," Bamber said.
Paschal, who has been receiving calls about the issue all week, seconds that advice.
"I don't want this office to be a place where people are afraid to ask questions," Paschal said.
According to Paschal, his phone's been ringing off the hook since Monday, and he understands why.
"We've had (valuations increase by) 40, 60 percent," he said. "One went up by almost 70 percent."
The reason: Assessments in Callaway County had been too low for many years, with properties selling for, on average, 19 percent more than their assessed value.
"What that means is the values we had in our system didn't reflect the actual market values," Paschal said.
This figure was 10 percent over the acceptable difference as set by the Missouri Tax Commission, and if the assessments weren't updated, the assessor's office could have been defunded. Paschal was mandated to reassess the value of the 25,713 individual parcels in Callaway County.
"We have a field crew that goes out and they physically examine each property," Paschal said.
Clerks at the assessor's office then enter that data into a program, which uses factors including real estate sales in the region, property improvements and more to come up with a new appraised value, Paschal explained. But the program isn't inerrant, and with the office sending out more than 9,000 notices of increased value, there's bound to be a couple of mistakes.
"But we won't know until (the property owners come)," Paschal said. "We want that information to be as accurate as possible."
He said if a property owner believes the valuation to be too high, he or she should call or visit the office. Most of the disagreements so far have been resolved in informal meetings like Bamber's.
"I'd rather (the valuation) be on the lower end than the higher end," Paschal said.
If the property owner still doesn't agree with the figure, they can visit the county clerk and request a meeting with the Board of Equalization to state their case.
He added only 60 percent of residential properties were reassessed this year. His office will tackle the other 40 percent, along with commercial properties, next year. After that, there should be fewer surprises for Callaway property owners.
"Once we do this, there won't be any of these major jumps like this year," Paschal said.
Tax impact unclear
One last point of confusion Paschal wants to clear up: Just because a property's value increased 40 percent doesn't mean the owner will pay 40 percent more taxes next year.
"The tax levies to the taxing entities have to roll back," Paschal said. "I know these numbers look big and scary and shocking, but when these levies roll back, you're not paying much more."
By law, entities like the schools and fire department can't receive a giant increase in tax moneys from old construction. This translates to properties being taxed at a lower percentage after being assessed higher.
While it'll be a while before the new tax levies are set, Paschal said most property owners should expect to pay a little more in property taxes.
Paschal can be reached at 573-642-0768, and his office is in the basement of the Callaway County Court House at 10 E. 5th St. in Fulton.