JEFFERSON CITY — St. Louis County property owners who claimed their multi-county tax assessments were discriminatory have lost their appeal at the Missouri Supreme Court.
In a decision issued May 16, the high court affirmed a St. Louis County Circuit Court opinion, which dismissed a case that originated at the County Board of Equalization.
Armstrong-Trotwood LLC, Armstrong-Brittany LLC, Armstrong-Arbor Village LLC, Robert Rothschild Jr., Susan Rothschild, Geiger Real Estate Inc. and Josh & Elaine LLC – whose properties fall within several multi-county taxing jurisdictions that levy in St. Louis, Jefferson and Franklin counties – had appealed their 2011-12 property tax assessment.
The plaintiffs' properties are located entirely within St. Louis County, but they claimed that Jefferson and Franklin counties "systematically" under-valued property in those counties, which caused them to bear a "disproportionate share of the cost of operating multi-county taxing districts."
The multi-county taxing jurisdictions in question included St. Louis Community College District, Special School District of St. Louis County, Rockwood School District and the Eureka Fire Protection District.
According to the court opinion, the landowners conceded their property valuations were accurate within St. Louis County.
But when they went to the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, their assessments were upheld. They appealed to the State Tax Commission, which affirmed the dismissal of their case.
Landowners then brought a complaint to the circuit court, arguing the assessments were discriminatory and that the State Tax Commission failed in its duty to equalize assessments between counties. The circuit court also dismissed their claims, the ruling states.
They appealed, and after an appeals court issued an opinion, it transferred the case to the Supreme Court, reasoning that the appeal "presents matters of general interest and importance and raises issues within this Court's exclusive appellate jurisdiction."
In its en banc ruling, the state Supreme Court held that the "Landowners’ petition fails to state a claim of non-uniform or discriminatory taxation upon which relief can be granted."