Constitutional Amendment 1
To hold county assessors accountable!
Proposed by the 95th Missouri General Assembly (First Regular Session 2009) SJR 5. Voters may go to www.senate.mo.gov/09info/pdf-bill/tat/SJR5.pdf to see the full text of this proposed Constitutional Amendment.
Official Ballot Title: (The summary question you will see in the voting booth)
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: (Additional clarification required by law, provided by Secretary of State’s office.)
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.
Analysis: Missouri’s 114 counties, not including the City of St. Louis which is classified as a city not within a county and thus counted as a county unto itself, are classified under 5 distinct levels. Classes I-IV counties are classified based on overall valuations. All county assessors in these first four classified counties are publicly elected. Most counties are rated as Class III and those who reach Class IV have the option of reorganizing as a Charter Class County if approved by their voters. This approval includes the governing structures.
These Charter Class Counties have a greater detailed form of governance (which invokes much pro/con debate points). One of the negative issues related to Charter Class Counties is that under the state constitution they can allow the county assessor to be appointed rather than publicly elected. This has led to controversial property assessment methods being employed that many see as a direct result of a lack of public accountability. Const. Amend. #1 seeks to return these positions back to elected offices in order to enforce more accountability. Of the three counties with appointed assessors, St. Charles and St. Louis Counties have been in the center of this debate.
Currently there are only four Charter Class Counties in Missouri. These include Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis Counties, each as a part of the greater St. Louis City region. Green County (Springfield area) and Boone County (Columbia area) are Class IV Counties which have discussed but not yet moved to become Charter Class Counties. Jackson County in the Kansas City area is the only remaining Charter Class County in the state, but is excluded from the proposed constitutional amendment. (Jefferson County chose to keep electing their assessor.)
County classifications are provided for under the Missouri State Constitution. Requiring that all county assessors are to be elected by constitutional mandate would protect this provision unless changed by a future statewide vote.
In summary, county assessors in three counties (Jackson, St. Charles, and St. Louis) are currently the only ones not currently elected or answerable directly to their voters. Constitutional Amendment #1 will only affect two of these counties as Kansas City politicians managed to get Jackson County exempted from the proposal. Passage of this measure will mean that all of Missouri’s county assessors except in Jackson County will be required to be publicly elected. (This also removes Jefferson County’s option to appoint their assessor in the future.)
Principles of good government which stem from our Judeo/Christian heritage supports high accountability in public affairs. Recognizing that man does not have a natural inclination towards righteousness (“As it is written, there is none righteous, no. not one:” Romans 3:10; “there is none that doeth good” v. 12) public service requires higher accountability than personal enterprise. Thus holding all county assessors directly answerable to citizens rather than allowing them to be politically insulated from straightforward voter accountability only makes sense.
Please vote “YES” to hold county assessors accountable!