Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz

Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz has responded to negative comments that readers made about him and other commissioners on The Missourian’s Facebook page.

When a story about the commissioners’ 3-0 vote to raise the property tax rate appeared on the newspaper’s Facebook page last week, some readers commented that the commissioners were “bums” who needed to be voted out of office.

But Schatz said the commissioners were just trying to keep the county “afloat” by raising the tax rate. Just because the tax rate went up, does not mean everyone will pay more taxes, Schatz said.

For example, one man was upset about the rate going up, but it turned out that he will actually pay about $200 less in taxes this year because his property values went down, Schatz said.

Since the county saw a large drop in assessed value this year it was necessary to raise the tax rate to generate the needed revenue to operate the county, commissioners say.

The county’s total assessed value, including personal property and real estate, for 2013 is $1.8 billion compared to $1.9 billion the year before. That is a decline of $81.5 million, or 4.4 percent, which is the largest drop in more than 50 years.

New Rates Versus 2012

The county sets two property tax rates — one for the general fund and one for road and bridge.

The 2013 tax rate for the general fund was set at 14.83 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the rate for road and bridge was set at 21.24 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The 2012 rate for the general fund was 13.08 cents and road bridge, 19.86 cents.

If the general fund tax rate would have stayed the same in 2013 as it was in 2012 it would have generated an estimated $2.3 million whereas the new rate will generate $2.6 million.

Likewise, if the road and bridge tax rate would have stayed the same in 2013 as it was in 2012 it would have generated $3.5 million whereas the new rate will generate an estimated $3.8 million.

However, even with the drop in assessed value, the new tax rates are estimated to bring in more revenue this year than what was anticipated in 2012. The 2012 general fund tax rate was estimated to bring in $2.4 million last year and road and bridge $3.67 million.

Maintain Services

Schatz wonders why people have questioned the county’s tax rates so harshly but have not applied the same scrutiny to school tax rates.

He said people can keep calling him a bum if they wish and call for him to be voted out of office. But he just wants them to know that the rates were raised to maintain county services, such as law enforcement and the highway department. Without raising the tax rate with the large drop in property values, the county’s services would have decreased “drastically,” Schatz added.

If property values go up in the future, the tax rate could possibly be brought back down, said Schatz, adding that he does not like taxes either.