Property values are hiking across St. Louis County. That’s a double-edged sword. On the plus side, the hikes can mean a better price at home sale time. On the downside, it can mean a substantial increase in real estate taxes.

Some of the largest increases in county assessments are in the local school districts of Webster Groves, Lindbergh, Affton and Kirkwood. The largest increase, according to the assessor’s office, is in the Hancock Place School District, which saw a 34 percent jump in preliminary assessments.

The preliminary reassessment of county properties show increases at:

• 19.1 percent for Lindbergh

• 21.5 percent for Affton

• 22.2 percent for Webster Groves

• 22.4 percent for Kirkwood

“We have an analysis performed in March, based on very preliminary numbers,” said Sara Siegel, external affairs manager with the St. Louis County Assessor’s Office. “That analysis showed that compared with 2017, the typical property has gone up in value by approximately 15 percent in the county.

“The increase in values are great news for St. Louis County property owners and for our region,” Siegel said. “These increases are in all areas, not just the expensive parts of the county. County Assessor Jake Zimmerman recognizes that strong home values help build homeowner equity and strong communities.”

Siegel emphasized that the assessor’s office does not set tax rates on properties. However, property values can and do impact taxes.

“It’s the county assessor’s job to determine correct property values, but it’s only the first step in the property tax process,” said Siegel. “Setting tax rates is the job of the taxing districts like school districts and fire districts.”

Siegel said Assessor Zimmerman is on the record as being very concerned that new rates may be a hardship for seniors on a fixed income.

“In fact, this issue has been on Jake’s radar for years,” said Siegel. “When he was in the Missouri Legislature, he worked hard on a bill that would give tax relief to low income senior home owners, but it hit a brick wall. There are other things the legislature could do to help seniors, like providing a tax credit.”

Taxpayers can soften the tax bill blow by signing up to pay their taxes in quarterly installments. The payments are determined by taking last year’s tax amount and dividing it into four equal amounts. A last payment will be adjusted to this year’s actual tax amount.

Taxpayers can enroll in the quarterly installment program by contacting the county office of the Collector of Revenue: 314-615-5500.

Appealing Assessments

The St. Louis County Assessor’s Office, as in the past, is holding informal appeals conferences so taxpayers can meet one-on-one with an appraiser and attempt to have any issues resolved. Unfortunately, all appointment times are now booked up, Siegel said.

If residents were unable to schedule an informal conference, or if they are not satisfied with the result of an informal conference, they can appeal their valuation to the St. Louis County Board of Equalization. The deadline for filing is Monday, July 8. This deadline is set by Missouri law so the board cannot grant extensions.

For detailed information on how to appeal property values, there is a “Property Value Appeals” brochure at: www.stlouisco.com/Your-Government/Revenue/Revenue-Brochures. Another option is to call the board of equalization at 314-615-7195.

Siegel said the appeals process is straight-forward and most homeowners can handle their own appeals. She said they don’t need to hire a third-party tax representative who will charge a percentage of any savings.

The gold standard for determining value is a recent appraisal, Siegel added. Many home owners already have one if they recently bought their home, refinanced their home, or got a loan for major renovations or repairs. Other evidence can be helpful. For example, photographs of the inside and outside of a home can be important, especially if an owner thinks the assessor’s office property description is wrong.

As in past reassessments, the board of equalization will be holding hearings in two locations:

• North: July 5 to July 18, 715 Northwest Plaza Drive in St. Ann.

• South: July 22 to Aug. 16, 9059 Watson Road in the Crestwood Square shopping center.