The overall value of property in St. Charles County increased by nearly 8 percent with the latest reassessment, largely due to the continued upswing in the housing industry, said county Assessor Scott Shipman.
The increase in residential, commercial and agriculture values is the second straight after three declines in reassessment years since the recession in the mid-2000s. The reassessment values this year follow on the heels of an almost 5 percent increase in overall property values in 2015, the last reassessment year.
The preliminary figures were released by Shipman this week on the eve of his office beginning the process of sending out 160,000 real estate assessment notices to property owners. The notices are expected to be sent out in different batches through April 28.
Shipman told the County Council at its April 10 work session, and in a later interview, that the increase stems from the continued rebound in housing.
“If you’re in the market at all it’s incredibly hot,” Shipman told councilmembers. “There is such a shortage of decent homes, they are selling inside of two weeks, it’s amazing, especially in this city [St. Charles].”
Shipman said he did a quick analysis recently and found that there were only two homes in the $170,000 to $195,000 range available in the City of St. Charles School District.
But Shipman said the assessed value increase for individual properties will vary. The 8 percent estimate is not an average – it doesn’t mean that the average homeowner’s house will increase by that number. “That’s kind of what the overall enlargement of the tax base would be countywide,” Shipman said in a later interview.
State law requires the assessor to revalue all real property in the county for tax purposes as of Jan.1 of every odd-numbered year. Valuation notices sent by the county reflect the change in value since Jan. 1, 2015.
Taxpayers have 10 days from the mailed date on the notice sent to them to schedule and informal hearing with the assessor’s office. To schedule a hearing, taxpayers can call the assessor’s office at (636) 949-7431 or (800) 822-4012, ext. 7431 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Informational hearings will be conducted Monday through Friday, and will continue until about the first week in June. Shipman said his office estimates it may conduct about 5,000 informal appeals.
The county will certify is figures as of July 1 and further appeals will have to be made to the county’s Board of Equalization. The deadline for board appeals is the second Monday in July. Homeowners may be able to petition the state Tax Commission for a hearing if they buy a house after the July deadline for the county’s Board of Equalization.
All of the appeal information is on the notice and available on the assessor’s page of the county website at www.sccmo.org/151/Assessor.
Shipman urged residents to go to the assessor’s website if they have questions. The assessor’s office has an enormous amount of data that can be reviewed by property owners, he said.
The assessor’s staff reviews individual properties based on building permits, records, studies and visual inspections. But Shipman said his office can be wrong and is willing to make corrections and work with residents. Most often missed is work done on residential basements, where permits sometimes aren’t taken out by property owners, and appraisers don’t see the finished work, he said.
The assessor’s job is to establish a fair market value for all property in the county used to calculate tax rates. Tax rate information from county Collector of Revenue Michelle McBride’s office is included on the assessment notice.
Shipman said once McBride sends out tax bills later this year it’s too late to appeal assessments. That may be when council members receive telephone calls from constituents, he said.
County Councilmember Joe Cronin [District 1] said residents in high growth areas such as Wentzville may be hit twice with higher assessments and higher tax rates approved in the Wentzville School District and Fire Protection District.
Shipman said the increase in values marks a recovery from the recession years. “Are they back to the values before the market dropped? I would say yes,” Shipman said in an interview. “But that’s a pretty long time ago – 10 to 11 years.”