So What Is Missouri Constitutional Amendment #1?

Downstate here, we have not seen any sort of advertising or much explanation of Missouri Constitutional Amendment #1, so voters are a little unclear on it. Let me do my best in layman’s terms to talk about it, and take the explanation with a grain of salt.

Here is the text:

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the office of county assessor to be an elected position in all counties with a charter form of government, except counties with a population between 600,001-699,999?

It is estimated this proposal will have no costs or savings to state or local governmental entities.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to require that assessors in charter counties be elected officers. This proposal will affect St. Louis County and any county that adopts a charter form of government. The exception is for a county that has between 600,001-699,999 residents, which currently is only Jackson County.

A “no” vote will not change the current requirement for charter counties.

If passed, this measure will not have an impact on taxes.

Ultimately, this is the Let St. Louis County Elect Its Assessor Amendment. The Moberly Monitor-Index explains different sizes of counties and the meaning of charter government. Of the charter governments, St. Louis County (which does not include the city of St. Louis due to some poor planning on the city’s part over 100 years ago) does not elect its assessor.

In recent years, the assessed value of properties in St. Louis County has continued to chug upwards, with some properties going up as much as 20% in a single year for no apparent reason. The assessor’s office has also used unpopular drive-by assessments, where assessors don’t spend much time evaluating the properties under “scrutiny.”

St. Louis County citizens want more accountability in the assessor’s office. Currently, it’s an appointed position. Residents hope that making it an elected position will make the assessor more responsive to citizens’ concerns and perhaps less apt to raise assessments in down years and stagnant real estate markets.

You might say, “Gee, Brian, you’re against top-down solutions, so certainly you’re against this.” However, this is a top-down solution that increases electoral accountability, so I’m for it. Until recently, I lived in St. Louis County (and I still have property there, so although I cannot vote, I will be impacted by the decision), and I know how concerned citizens there are about this issue. Even as the Tea Party was ramping up, this issue engaged citizens independently.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and Hallowe’en is over.

(Cross-posted to 24th State.)

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