What do St. Clair County taxpayers think?

The Madison County Record Aug. 29, 2010, 7:42am

To the Editor:

If anyone wants to know what St. Clair County residents think about anything, all you have to do is ask. I did, and more than 1,000 concerned citizens answered in a series of 15 public forums throughout the county.

The most common concerns expressed are, first, citizens clearly are ready to pay their fair share of taxes, but they wonder about the fairness of individual tax bills, and, second, they're tired of the "business as usual for 40 years" attitude in the Assessor's office.
Many are confused, some are upset and most feel used because of what they perceive as wide-spread over-assessment coupled with an apparent inconsistent approach to property assessment. That's topped-off by a lack of communication from the Assessor's office.

People feel that similar homes in the same neighborhood seem to be assessed at widely different values while other homes are assessed as if the property had no buildings or improvements.

Several underlying factors are causing these concerns and doubts, including especially the sad 40-year tradition of St. Clair County leaders of ignoring state law which requires that each residential property be properly assessed every four years.

But the problem is deeper than failing to follow the law, the real problem is the lack of consistent standards for the employees of the Assessor's office so that comparable homes have comparable assessed values, without the need to resort to some type of confusing multiplier system.

The solution is to break the tradition of electing the same old group's same old type of "go along to get along" assessor and to elect a person who will make a real difference, a person who understands the details of the law and who has the maturity and experience to manage people, resources and technology.

Our country was founded by fighting for the principle of fair taxes for all. By assessing all property fairly and consistently, each of us can be confident that we're doing our fair share to support our local governmental units, public safety services and school districts.

That's something all Americans have agreed on for more than 230 years.

Ed Cockrell
St. Clair County Board Member
Republican candidate for Assessor

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