By Darin Codon
In a recent Board of Equalization meeting, Taney County Assessor James Strahan raised concerns about the evaluation of certain businesses, particularly hotels, for tax purposes. The issue at hand was how to accurately assess the value of these establishments. Instead of the traditional approach of evaluating the land based on square footage and cost to build, some businesses argued that the value should be based on revenue and expenses. In this article, we will explore the debate between the Taney County Assessor and the Board of Equalization, as well as discuss potential solutions for evaluating hotels in Branson.
Evaluating Hotels: Revenue and Expenses vs. Land Value
The Taney County Assessor pointed out that evaluating hotels based on revenue and expenses instead of land value posed a challenge. While it may seem like a fair approach, it requires a robust grading system to categorize hotels based on their quality, construction, and amenities. Currently, hotels in Branson range from old, stick-built motels from the 70s and 80s to modern, prefabricated concrete motels with elevators. To accurately evaluate these establishments, a comprehensive grading system is needed, taking into account the relative value of each category.
Income Expense Reports and Questionable Calculations
During the meeting, the Assessor highlighted some discrepancies in the income and expense reports provided by businesses. One particular issue raised was the presence of a significant amount of soda expenses. The Assessor questioned why a motel would have approximately $6,000 worth of soda in their reports, as it seemed unrelated to the value of the property. The discrepancy between the reported revenue and the expense for soda raised concerns about the accuracy of the calculations provided.
The Role of the Board of Equalization
The Board of Equalization is responsible for evaluating appeals made by assessors and taxpayers regarding property assessments. In Taney County, the Board consists of five members: the County Commission and two outside appointees. During the meeting in question, only three members were present. This raised concerns over the fairness of the decision-making process, as it allowed for an appeal in an even-numbered year while other motels and hotels had to wait until the following year for reassessment.
Proposed Solutions: Implementing a Grading System
To address the challenges of evaluating hotels in Branson, Taney County Assessor James Strahan suggested the implementation of a grading system. This system would consider factors such as construction quality and amenities to categorize hotels accurately. By veering away from the cost approach and focusing on the relative value within each category, a more equitable assessment could be achieved.
The debate between Taney County Assessor James Strahan and the Taney County Board of Equalization highlights the challenges of evaluating businesses, especially hotels, for tax purposes. The use of revenue and expenses as a basis for assessment raises questions about the accuracy and fairness of the calculations provided. Implementing a grading system to evaluate hotels based on their quality, construction, and amenities could potentially address these concerns. By ensuring a more equitable assessment process, business owners and assessors can work together to determine the true value of properties in Taney County and promote a fair taxation system.