Friday, February 01, 2008

Real Estate Taxes of Concern to Trustees, Residents

The outlook for a tax reduction may not happen until 2009. Reassessment is done every two years, with no provision for interim action. (Individual appeals, however, can be made, starting in the spring.)

Officials do expect the 2009 reassessment to be nothing like 2007's, in which property values soared 22 percent and ignited angry protests from homeowners. The county's increase last year outstripped the rest of the state, including the counties surrounding St. Louis County.

In the Ferguson-Florissant and Hazelwood districts, assessments increased by about 30 percent. Many other districts saw increases of 20 percent or more. Figures from the St. Louis Association of Realtors show that average and median house sales prices last year declined compared with 2006 in most school districts in the county. However, property owners won't see assessments that reflect the declines until next year.

Under state law, property assessments for Jan. 1, 2007, stay on the books until a reassessment next year, said Eugene Leung, the county's director of revenue. Just because an area's value is dropping does not mean a tax decrease follows. Many jurisdictions can be expected to raise their tax rates if assessments drop.

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