by Steve Fair
Oklahoma citizens were told the change would rein in ‘loose cannon’ county assessors across the Sooner state who were assessing taxes with no statutory guidelines or legal restraint. The proposal was supposed to give them a ceiling increase by allowing them to assess a maximum increase in property tax of no more than five(5) percent per year.
Property tax is an important source of revenue for schools, vo-techs, and county government. Schools get about 60% of the money, Vo-Techs, county and city government get the rest. Property tax are caulated by using four factors- the market value of the property, an ‘assessment ratio’(currently 11%), less homestead exemption and applying the county millage (tax rate per $1000). Because property tax assessment wasn’t widely understood by the average Oklahoman, any proposal to rein in their increase was met with approval.
"It is clear to me that the AG's opinion says the citizens will have to change the law if they want relief from what has become an almost automatic 5 percent increase in property taxes each year," Roach said.
Last session, State Senator Jim Reynolds, (R-Moore) authored SJR 5 which would have let Oklahomans vote to lower the current property tax cap of five percent to three percent. SJR 5 passed the Senate and moved to the House where it stalled and was not voted on.
State Representative Jason Murphey, (R-Guthrie) has proposed legislation that places a temporary freeze on property tax assessments. This freeze would take place over a two year time period after which time the cap on new assessments could never be higher than 2.5% and could be as low as 0%. Murphey has also announced he will introduce a bill increasing the amount allowed for homestead exemption. It has been more than twenty years since any adjustment has been made to homestead.