Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Assessment fiasco has politicians howling for county assessor's head -- but is he really to blame?

Even state Sen. David Klarich (R-Ballwin), another potential Westfall foe, tells me he is "absolutely not" in agreement with Odenwald. Klarich has some bad ideas of his own, which he promises to bring forward next session, but as a sponsor of bills to give relief to seniors in recent years, he has at least given real-estate-tax reform some effort.

Some reform -- especially to protect fixed-income seniors (not all of them, as Klarich would) -- is long overdue in this state. But oversimplified quick fixes, such as capping tax growth regardless of assessment realities, will only make an unfair system worse.

The essence of the problem, in the county and throughout the state, is that politicians ultimately do little more than bark about taxes. Klarich, for example, insists that real-estate taxes "are the most regressive taxes of all." But what would he replace them with in a low-tax state that ranks 40-something nationally in most of its services?

"I don't want to go there now," he says.

Nor does any other politician.

So the world keeps making fire hydrants of guys like Mo Gogarty.

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