Thursday, March 18, 2010


COLUMBIA, 3/18/10  (Beat Byte) -- If you read the Heart Beat, you know I've covered this issue many times before. 

You know it really bugs me that Stan Kroenke (left), one of the world's richest men, only pays $280 a year in property taxes on land he bought to develop 12 years ago for $2 million south of town, especially when Columbia Public Schools is wrenching every last dollar out of every last program it can to save money, and will seek levy increases from the rest of us ad infinitum.  

And that's hardly the only Kroenke-owned parcel that pays virtually no taxes.  There are plenty more, all around town.

You know it really bugs me that Forum Development Group is paying property taxes on vacant lots in Broadway Bluffs as though they are farming the land rather than building a Houlihans on it.  They've had one parcel for sale as high-dollar commercial property for $1.2 million for about 2 years now, but pay roughly $1,400 a year in property taxes on it, as though it were worth only a tenth of the sales price.

And how about a 4 bedroom duplex owned by mega-developer Jeff Smith assessed at only $400, or a McMansion where the county assessor's value is $3 million less than the current sales price?  

$3 million less!  That really bugs me, too.

I've given up trying to fight it, though, because people are are so willing to accept -- rather than thoroughly investigate and debunk -- a snow job:  That the County Assessor is "just following the law."   

But more importantly, this isn't fair.  Period.   It totally and completely fails the fairness test.  In no country, on no planet, is a huge inequity like this fair, especially when people in the area's poorest neighborhoods are paying top dollar in property taxes by comparison, and everyone suffers as school programs, teachers, etc. keep getting cut. 

As an exercise designed to get the investigative juices flowing, the Columbia Heart Beat gave all the school board candidates our new "Assessor Awareness Test" in which candidates find out all this crazy, crazy stuff for themselves.   Naturally, we invite you to take the test, too.   

Next:  Jan Mees takes our  "Assessor Awareness Test"

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