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Michelle VanGorkom, Scotland County’s new assessor, has taken office and is busy working on the assessment plan for the next assessment cycle. Although elected to the office in November of 2020, the county assessor, unlike other county office holders, did not take office until September 1, 2021. This allows the outgoing assessor to complete the assessments of real and personal property and go through the board of equalization appeal process before leaving office.
It would be difficult for a new assessor to step into office on January first and undertake to assess all the taxable property in the county by July 1. Starting in September gives me time to develop a plan to fairly and uniformly assess the property for the next two years.
Missouri has a two-year assessment cycle for real estate while personal property is assessed yearly. The assessment established for real estate in the odd-numbered year remains for the following even-numbered year unless the property was changed by new construction or damage during the odd-numbered year.
Mrs. VanGorkom explained that in the even-numbered year, the assessor, in addition to reassessing personal property, conducts field reviews to detect new construction and to double check the accuracy of the information. The field review work includes verifying all previously recorded data, evaluating the condition of improvements, and measuring any new additions or buildings. As the even year ends, the assessor studies recent sales as well as construction costs in the county and begins to establish local real estate market values for 2023 and 2024.
In the odd-numbered year, personal property values are again determined, and real estate values are finalized, increase notices sent to taxpayers, and any disagreements over the assessments are processed.
Then, the cycle begins again.
In order to schedule our staff time most efficiently and budget our resources, we develop a two-year assessment plan. The plan contains a budget and phase charts which tell us exactly who should be doing what and when. By developing and following the plan, we know we are on target, both in terms of time and valuation.
The assessor added that property is reassessed on a regular basis because it is important to treat everyone the same. Since the values of different property go up or down at different rates, we must adjust for differences, or some taxpayers will be treated unfairly. It is not done to raise taxes but to maintain uniformity and equity between property owners, and also between counties.