CHARLESTON - Two of the three assessments brought before the Mississippi County Board of Equalization will stand. "The third one was a correction," said W.R. "Bill" Thompson, assessor.
The Board of Equalization reconvened Thursday following the county commission meeting to make their decisions.
Mississippi County property owners disputing assessments presented their cases to the Board of Equalization on July 12.
The first case to be decided was the assessment of Greg Hall's Charleston property.
Hall said during the first hearing that he had received two impact notices from the assessor, the first of which listed fair market value for his property at $54,000 and a second notice received six weeks later listing the market value at $66,800. Hall implied the value was raised in response to his protest over the first impact notice.
Hall's attorney, Jim Hux of Sikeston, took a different tack. Hux said a property's "truest value" is what it sells for. Hall had sold the property in 1996 for only $45,000 before reacquiring the property after a foreclosure, according to Hux. Hux also said the property was appraised at $51,000 June 19 by a certified appraiser.
Thompson explained the first letter was to advise of the adjusted land value, although the letter had an error identifying the change as being from construction.
After receiving the protest to his first impact notice, Thompson said he conducted an inspection to make sure he hadn't made some sort of mistake resulting in the property being assessed too high.
During this inspection, improvements to the property concealed behind a fence were discovered that had been missed previously including an in-ground swimming pool, a pool house and a glassed-in back porch.
The newly-discovered improvements raised the property's fair market value, for which Thompson sent the second impact notice.
"I personally think the assessment was conservative," said Thompson. "Usually property sells for more."
Thompson said property owners often complain their property is not worth as much as it is assessed for, but assessors don't assign values based on worth. "The bottom line is market value," said Thompson.
The board voted unanimously to let the assessment stand.
The second case, presented by Forrest C. Stevens Sr. of Charleston, questioned the land value increase. The frontage-foot rate for Stevens' neighborhood went from $50 to $110.
Roger Arnzen of Cape Girardeau explained during a July 26 meeting with commissioners and Thompson how he arrived at that rate.
Arnzen said land values are set using a formula handed down by the state based on actual sales and not the quality of the neighborhood or other appraisal methods.
Vacant lot sales in the neighborhood are reviewed to determine a front-foot rate. Recent house sales in the area are also used by subtracting the house value from the total price paid to determine the land's value.
Adjustments are also made for the depth of the lot using a formula.
As assessments are based on formulas and not perceived value, the board voted to let this assessment stand as well.
The third case involved "an error that's been corrected," according to Thompson.
The wrong side of Helen Keegan's Charleston home was used to determine its frontage, according to Thompson. "When the maps were made, the assumption was that everybody wanted their front door on the main thoroughfare," he explained.
Keegan's front door is located on the side road and her side door on the main road, however.
The land assessment was further complicated by the lot's irregular shape. "What you need to do is square the lot," said Thompson.
Frontage foot length was changed from 115 feet to 34.75 feet. In other Mississippi County news:
* Commissioners discussed the county's solid waste disposal problem with Richard Wallace, road and bridge department superintendent. Since prohibiting dumping at the county shed site following a citation by the Department of Natural Resources, county officials are again finding evidence of illegal dumping on remote county roads.
* The Mississippi County Heart Health Coalition has informed county officials they will only need the county to complete the ground work for a walking track to be built on a vacant 100 by 480-foot lot created when concrete culverts and fill dirt replace an open county ditch.
County officials had also committed themselves to building a gravel road base for the asphalt walking track, but were advised the asphalt contractor preferred to build the base without assistance.
The lot was designated as an extension of Lincoln Park by Charleston officials earlier this year.
Commissioners asked Wallace if he could have the work completed by Sept. 9 when the contractors are scheduled to begin their work.
* Construction of a shooting range for local law enforcement and Department of Corrections officers will begin soon now that all the legal aspects are resolved.
The project was held up by the question of who would be liable for activities conducted at the shooting range.
Legal counsel for the various agencies agreed each law enforcement agency will be covered by their own liability insurance.