Which office should be dissolved “County Assessor” or “Planning and Zoning?”

A recent headline in this paper blared out “Assessor calls for vote to dissolve P & Z department.” The first paragraph of the article stated “Taney County Assessor James Strahan called on the county commission to place an initiative on the ballot to dissolve the county’s Planning and Zoning Department but before the day was out a disgruntled county resident agreed to take up the cause.” It also stated, “Strahan, whose family owns a large farm, doesn’t like the way the government handles regulations on farmers. He said there should be no intervention when it comes to farm land.”

The Ole Seagull thought to himself, “Every rock pile starts with two rocks.” Too he wondered what official involvement “Taney County Assessor James Strahan” had with “the county’s Planning and Zoning Department” and how many of Missouri’s  Class 1 Counties do not have a Planning and Zoning Department or its equivalent?

“Ah Seagull, I think I have the answer to the second question.” “Oh, how many is that?” “About one less than the total number of Class 1 Missouri Counties that has James Strahan as County Assessor.”

The article pointed out that “Strahan came before the Taney County Commission on a recent Monday voicing a multitude of concerns over how the county’s Planning and Zoning Department is and has been operating especially in connection with agricultural land.” Among other things the article said that Strahan “outlined issues of land disturbances, permitting requirements, reduction in road easements, two-acre minimum requirements, urban sprawl, zoning maps – all a ‘bureaucratic mess.’”

Well an Ole Seagull would have to bet that a lot of people within Taney Country would agree with the “bureaucratic mess.” However, he would apply it more to “bureaucratic messes” such as those involving Strahan’s recent interaction with the Missouri Tax Commission. How much did Taney County spend fighting the Tax Assessor issue with the state? Did the vast majority of property owners get their assessments lowered during the time the value of their houses were dropping?

An Ole Seagull would be interested in just when in the meeting Strahan made his “little pitch?” Did he do it under the Public Comment period as a private citizen or at some other point during the meeting using the “color of his office,” speaking at a time when others would not have been permitted to speak. If he did it during the “Public Comment” portion was he on the County’s payroll when he spoke?

Strahan described problems involving “land disturbances, permitting requirements, reduction in road easements, two-acre minimum requirements, urban sprawl, zoning maps – all a ‘bureaucratic mess.'” Were an Ole Seagull a betting bird he would bet that the majority of those items, when discussed calmly and intelligently by people who know what they are talking about would have minimal if any involvement with any negative aspects of “Planning and Zoning” and would, in fact, relate to the benefits of “Planning and Zoning” for all property owners not just those owning “farmland.”

On Friday, October 8 the areas Mayor’s, or their equivalents, held a meeting in Branson to discuss the situation. Hollister Mayor David Tate said that one of the results of the meeting is that the group is sending a letter to the Taney County Commission asking to be a part of the process so that they can participate in giving information, getting their questions answered and working out a solution that would be of benefit to all the residents of Taney County including those owning farmland.

On balance, an Ole Seagull just has to wonder if there isn’t more of a basis to dissolve the Assessor’s Office than there is Planning and Zoning?

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