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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

A taxing job

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oregon County Assessor Charles Alford, seated, is surrounded by his staff, from left, Bruce Simpson, Misty Hower and Kelly Orr. Photo by Jan Thompson
OREGON COUNTY -- Charles Alford serves as the assessor in Oregon County.

He said the functions of the assessor is setting values on real estate property and personal property by using state statutes and guidelines to develop values.

"Real estate property includes residential property such as homes and buildings that go with the residential property. This property is assessed at 19 percent value," Alford said.

He said agriculture property includes land and buildings such as barns related to agricultural use. "Agricultural property is assessed at 12 percent of value. Agricultural land values are set by the State Tax Commission based on its productivity level," Alford said. He said most of the land in Oregon County is set from average or below average in productivity.

"Land in north Missouri or southeast Missouri may be put in a high productivity level because more grain and crops are grown," he said.

The assessor is responsible for changing names on property as it is deeded to a new owner. Alford said the assessor picks up deeds at the Recorder's office as they are recorded and makes new transfers on the tax maps so the new owner of the property will receive the correct tax bill for that property.

"For example, if a 100 acre tract of land was split into five, 20 acre tracts of land with five new owners, this would be split into 20 acre tracts of land with five new owners. This would appear on the tax maps as 20 acre tracts with a new parcel number for each tract and a tax bill will be created for each parcel," Alford said.

The assessor also works with commercial property which includes lands and buildings. Commercial property is assessed at 32 percent of value.

The assessor's office has property record cards for each parcel of property in the county. Alford said the property record card has information on a parcel of property such as a sketch of the home and out buildings. It also shows things such as square footage of the home and buildings, and the amount of acreage that property has or if it is in town, the size of the lot.

"There is some property that is exempt from taxes such as schools, churches and some state and federally owned property," the assessor said.

There is approximately 105,000 acres of Mark Twain National Forest land in Oregon County, or about one-fifth of the 792 square miles in the county.

The assessor is responsible for documenting new construction in the county each year and for reviewing property in the county to look for changes in property.

"When changes are made to a property, notices are sent to the land owner. If the land owner does not agree with the new value, there is an appeal process that can be used," he said.

Alford said as of Jan. 1, Oregon County had 8,900 real estate parcels.

He said his office deals with personal property which includes livestock, machinery, automobiles, boats, motors and trailers of all kinds.

"The assessor's office just mailed 5,200 personal property assessment lists. These are to be back in my office by March 1 with information on personal property. Residents that are not familiar with personal property lists can call my office and we will help you fill out the list," he said. There are a few items that can be considered personal property or real estate such as mobile homes and portable buildings, according to Alford.

"We have booklets available that tells how the taxing process works in Missouri, both on personal and real estate property," he said.

Alford said the assessor has state laws that must be followed in working with all aspects of assessment of the property.

"I am required to attend 20 hours of training each year. I also have to take 32 hours of training in the assessment field every other year. Both training sessions are required by state statutes," the assessor said. He said as assessor he has completed all training required by the state.

"On Jan. 7, I attended a livestock committee meeting in Jefferson City with 10 other assessors from across the state and three state tax commissioners. We established livestock values for 2008. It was unanimous that livestock values are on a downward trend and production costs are much higher. We voted to lower livestock values for 2008," he said.

Alford said he has a good staff to work with and without them he could not complete the task of assessor. Bruce Simpson works with mapping and deed work. Kelly Orr works with personal property and real estate and Misty Hower works part-time, also dealing with real estate and property taxes.

"Although the staff members have specific duties, they also have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with all the aspects of the assessment field," Alford said.

He said during the past four years his office has implemented a new software system which is more cost effective than the old system.

"In the past two years I have been able to fly over the county and implement new aerial photography. This has not been updated since the early 1980s," he said.

Alford was elected Oregon County Assessor in 1996.

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