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Category Archives: property tax

New library facilities are a huge asset to Christian County


I heard some fine music on August 11 at the newly-renovated Ozark branch of the Christian County Library from Kicking Jacksie!

As you can see in the photo, we were in a bright meeting room that is available to the public. The windows overlook the Finley River Park, where a mud-run had just been completed and where on other days and nights you can see barrel racing at the Finley River Saddle Club arena, various amateur athletic events, the county fair and people having picnics or paddling kayaks.

In our public discourse, we glorify entrepreneurship and the for-profit engines that drive our economy. But what I saw Saturday reminds me that the nonprofit sector—including the government—plays a big part in providing some of the best things in our lives, such as parks and libraries, when citizens are willing to tax themselves.

Last December, I was privileged to be asked to provide legal counsel to the board of directors of the Christian County Library District and the capable director Geri Godber and assistant director Katy Pattison.

The Christian County voters had the good sense to vote an increase in the District’s property tax levy by a 2-1 margin in August 2017. A mere twelve months later and the District has delivered an 8,000 sq. ft. branch in Nixa in a former office suite leased (with a purchase option) from Southern Bank and a complete renovation of the original branch in Ozark, adding a children’s reading room.

For both the Nixa and Ozark projects Sapp Design Architects, led by project architect Devon Burke and senior project manager Jim Stufflebeam, provided designs and Nesbitt Construction was the general contractor.  Michael Strong of George K. Baum & Company was the District’s financial consultant, assisting with the issuance of certificates of participation.

I’ve rarely worked on renovation projects with so much cooperation and so few problems. Nor have I worked on many projects where women (Geri, Katy, Devon and most of the District’s board members) made almost all the decisions. Though my role in the District’s projects has been tiny, I’ve rarely been more proud to be associated with a client’s endeavor.

At the Ozark library, you can check out live music and other performances from time to time, and you can also check out a rod and reel and tackle box or cake or muffin pans. And there are lots of books and movies. You can use a computer that may be connected to databases that aren’t available on Google and get help from a trained librarian. There’s a room full of local history materials. Separate spaces for little kids, tween and teens, with furniture and books to fit them, will help them enjoy using the library.

Getting back to the music–which is linked to books–Jack Bowden of Kicking Jacksie! is a teacher in Hermitage who formerly entertained at Silver Dollar City, where he hooked up with drummer Andy Holloway and bassist Shannon Thomason.

Jack is a participant in Wild Bob’s Musical Book Club. This book club publishes a list of books for upcoming months. Songwriters write a song related to or inspired by the book of the month and congregate at Lindberg’s on Commercial Street once a month to perform the songs that each has written. Literature and music fuel our spirits and imaginations, so that we can go on working. For the performance at the Ozark library, the two songs inspired by Where the Wild Things Are were big hits for all ages.

Everywhere I go, libraries are popular. They offer many things besides quiet spaces, including spaces with pleasant noise, helpful librarians, cake pans and fishing equipment.

One big difference between searching for information at a library and on the internet is that the internet is driven by mechanisms that obtain information from you and select information to give to you, including advertisements, based on what the advertising clients of Google and Facebook want you to see. Libraries aren’t like that.

Christian County has library facilities to be proud of and dedicated board members and employees. The 20 cent per thousand levy provides knowledge and entertainment. Even in an off-year election, Christian County voters turned out and did themselves a huge favor. More facilities are planned for the west and east ends of Christian County.

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Getting a Missouri collector’s deed after a tax sale just became harder

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On July 3, 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court released two opinions that clarify the procedure by which purchasers of tax certificates at the annual August sales may obtain deeds to the tax-delinquent property. Both cases illuminate section 140.405 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri with respect to the content and timing of notices (“redemption notices”) required to be sent to the delinquent taxpayer (and others, such as lienholders) so that the tax sale purchaser can obtain a deed to the property for which the purchaser has paid the delinquent taxes and received a “certificate of purchase” which I refer to here as a tax certificate. These new decisions apply to first-year sales and second-year sales, not third-year sales, which have different redemption rules.

Redemption notices must be sent at least 90 days before August anniversary of sale

Harpagon MO, LLC v. Bosch overrules Read the rest of this entry

Taxpayers vs. Ratepayers: Taxpayers lose


St. Charles County wanted to widen a road, which required moving the gas line within the right-of-way of Pittman Hill Road. Pittman Hill Road was created by subdivision plats which designated the road’s right-of-way as a utility easement for gas lines (among other utilities), dedicating the entire right-of-way to the public. 

The County asked Laclede Gas Company to pay for the relocation of its gas lines to the right-of-way of the reconstructed road. Laclede claimed that this amounted to an unconstitutional taking of its property. On a motion for summary judgment, the trial court ruled for the County, requiring Laclede Gas to pay for the relocation. Laclede appealed directly to the Missouri Supreme Court.

On appeal, the County made four objections: Read the rest of this entry

Charity to animals is basis for property tax exemption


Property taxes in Missouri and most states apply to all property that isn’t exempted by a provision of the state constitution or statutes. The exemptions from Missouri real estate taxes are listed in section 137.100 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, which includes government property and

All property, real and personal, actually and regularly used exclusively for religious worship, for schools and colleges, or for purposes purely charitable and not held for private or corporate profit….

Note that the exemption is based on use not ownership.

A recent opinion of the Missouri court of appeals, M’Shoogy Animal Rescue v. Andrew County Assessor, reversed the determination of the State Tax Commission, which had indicated that rescue and medical treatment of  animals was not the kind of charitable use that would exempt a facility from property tax.

The Andrew County assessor and board of equalization and the State Tax Commission all argued that Missouri law had never allowed property tax exemptions for facilities devoted to charitable activities other than those charities that help humans.

Indeed, the court of appeals had to turn to cases from other states, many of which had reasoned that humans benefit from charity to animals, to find precedents for recognizing charity to animals as an activity benefiting humans, thereby justifying a charitable tax exemption.

Is this legislation from the bench? If so, should we agree with it?

When the iris blooms, it’s time to challenge your property tax value

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You may think of property taxes only when you get your property tax bill in November, with your taxes due by year end. But in November and December, you’re generally too late to do anything but pay the taxes.

Spring is the time of year that you can actually do something about the amount of your taxes, so that the November tax statement will not be such a shock. You can appeal to the board of equalization. Here’s how Read the rest of this entry

Missouri Supreme Court disses certified mail notice


A unanimous opinion of the Missouri Supreme Court, dated March 31, 2009, holds that section 140.405 of the Missouri Revised Statutes is unconstitutional.

This statute provides for notice by certified mail to delinquent property taxpayers that someone has paid the taxes on their real estate and that they must redeem their property by paying the taxes, or lose it. If the certified mail notice is unclaimed, the person giving the notice (who is the purchaser of a tax certificate at a sale of delinquent property), that person must take additional steps to notify the delinquent taxpayer that a collector’s deed will be issued to the person who purchased the tax certificate. Read the rest of this entry

Good luck with that foreclosure, MERS members


A Missouri appellate court, without trying, may have drawn a map to a defense to foreclosures–if borrowers can figure it out before the Missouri Supreme Court overturns the decision in Bellistri v Ocwen. The opinion shows how an assignment of a loan to a servicing company for collection can actually make the loan uncollectible from the mortgaged property. Read the rest of this entry

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