LEGISLATORS ask AG to issue opinion on practices of county tax assessors

Saturday, May 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ State Attorney General Drew Edmondson has been asked to put the practices of some county tax assessors under a microscope to determine if they are complying with state law.

Five state lawmakers want Edmondson to issue an opinion on whether a state constitutional amendment that caps yearly increases in the fair cash value of locally assessed property at 5 percent is being violated.

Rep. Russ Roach, D-Tulsa, said the request ``sets in motion the groundwork to rein in a property tax system that has resulted in automatic tax increases for many Oklahomans.''

``Many of the assessors claim they have no choice but to increase property taxes every year by 5 percent,'' Roach said, but such increases are not what voters ``had in mind when the current constitutional language was approved'' in 1996.

He was joined in the request by three other Tulsa-area legislators and Sen. Dave Herbert, D-Midwest City.

Roach said the current system can result in an increase of more than 20 percent over a four-year period, even though state law apparently bars such a practice.

``In my area of northeast Tulsa, I'm getting far more complaints about the automatic 5 percent increase in property taxes than I am on any other issue,'' said state Rep. Mark Liotta, R-Tulsa, who joined Roach in asking for the opinion. Many of his constituents are retired and have no way to increase their income to compensate for property tax increases, Liotta said.

Sen. Penny Williams, D-Tulsa, said she plans to use the attorney general's opinion to write legislation next year ``to help give some clarity to the assessors and relief to the taxpayers.''