ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – The St. Louis County Assessor says it doesn’t smell right – a board over which he has no control has cut the property tax bill of county casinos in half.
Assessor Jake Zimmerman says local schools and fire districts will have to do with about $11 million less, because the Board of Equalization slashed the tax bills of Harrah’s and River City casinos.
“My concern is the taxpayers of St. Louis County are getting the shaft here,” Zimmerman said, “because if big commercial entities like casinos don’t pay their fair share, then that means all the rest of us end up paying more.”
Zimmerman also says the 50-percent reduction in the casino property tax bills is way out of line with the usual 10-to-20 percent reduction homeowners might win before the Board of Equalization.
The three-member board is appointed by St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and is independent of the Assessor’s Office.
Board Chairwoman, attorney Leslie Broadnax, defended the cuts. She says they were in reaction to a “new formula ” the county assessor was using to increase the property tax on casinos.
“It was a different formula from years past, and it would have given the properties different values from years past, which would have raised the tax liability significantly,” Broadnax said.
Broadnax says the board’s decision was fair and honest, and not tainted by any influence from the gaming industry.
“I don’t know anyone in the gaming industry here in St. Louis,” Broadnax said, “I have not been a part of the Gaming Commission or anything of that nature.”
She also says the decision was not influenced by the St. Louis County Executive.