Homeowners react to proposed property tax increase in 2020 budget

2 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Wednesday, December 04 2019 Dec 4, 2019 Wednesday, December 04, 2019 3:06:00 PM CST December 04, 2019 in News
By: Skylar Webb, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA – Boone County's sales tax revenue has been steadily decreasing in recent years - and homeowners in the county could be facing a property tax increase as a result.

Some residents of the Shepard Boulevard neighborhood reacted to the proposed  2-cent increase in the county's property tax Wednesday.

The increase was proposed at a budget meeting Tuesday night by June Pitchford as a way to generate more revenue where it has been lost. She blamed untaxed online retail sales for the drop. This tax accounts for almost 70% of total revenue for a majority of county operations and services. 

Irvin Cockriel, a homeowner who would be affected by this increased tax, didn’t feel it was fair given the reasoning behind why sales tax revenue has been declining.

“There are a lot of retired people and people with low incomes that the property tax increase would make it difficult,” Cockriel said.

He said he believes the people who are spending money on online purchases should be the ones to pay an increased tax. A neighbor and homeowner living nearby agreed.

“The property tax has been reassessed this year, it’s raised,” Dorotha Jones said. “I would go for a sales tax and also the internet. Tax the internet.”

The budget plan proposes total county spending of $85.8 million, which is down 2% from this year. The proposal estimates that sales tax revenue will shrink by 1.75% by the end of the year and an additional 1.75% in 2020.

If the 2-cent increase were to be passed, total property tax would be boosted to 19 cents. This means, for example, the average Boone County property owner with a home estimated at $200,000 would pay an additional annual property tax of $7.60.

Another homeowner says this tax is “pretty small potatoes.”

“I’m fine with it,” Cat Nixon said. “It’s a progressive tax, unlike the sales tax it’s trying to replace, where people with more wealth pay more generally.”

Nixon said the county needs to turn to students and the developers servicing those students’ housing needs to ensure they’re paying a fair share.

“For example, to just have all the legally required utilities in Columbia with zero usage is like $65-$70 per month for a regular person,” Nixon said. “I seriously doubt these high-rises downtown are paying that kind of base fee to the city per unit, per month.”

The county authorizes to levy a property tax as high as 31 cents per $100 assessed valuation without seeking voter approval. The meeting on Tuesday marked the first of many in regard to discussing the budget and how the county can leverage the tax revenue it's been losing.

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