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Missouri State Tax Commission appointment forced five resignations
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Nov. 3, 2009) — Speaking Tuesday morning before an audience of family, friends, and other elected officials at the county courthouse in Waynesville, Bill Ransdall announced that he has resigned not only as the county’s presiding commissioner but also from the chairmanship of the Pulaski County Growth Alliance, as a board member of the State Soil and Water Districts Commission and the Leonard Wood Institute, and from his compensated employee role as co-founder of Rastur Inc.

All those resignations are necessary, Ransdall said, to avoid conflicts of interest in his new full-time role as an interim appointee by Gov. Jay Nixon to the Missouri State Tax Commission. The appointment of Ransdall, a Democrat, is subject to confirmation by the Republican-controlled State Senate when the legislature convenes in January. State law requires that no more than two members of the three-member commission be from the same political party; Ransdall would be the commission’s second Democrat. The term of the other Democrat on the commission expired earlier this year but she will continue to serve until she is reappointed or replaced.

Ransdall will earn slightly more than $105,000 per year in his new position. His salary as Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner was $34,670.

Bruce Davis, the Republican chairman of the State Tax Commission who has been on the commission for nearly two decades, said the work is definitely a full-time job.

“There are a lot of responsibilities for the State Tax Commission and for the commissioners,” Davis said. “We do have a weekly public meeting in which we review appeals to the full commission and we also have weekly staff meetings” with heads of staff sections in the agency.

Ransdall noted Tuesday in his press conference that the state tax commission’s staff has been cut nearly in half during recent years. The commission currently has 55 full-time equivalent positions, Davis said.

“There are several things that we are involved in, one of them being that we determine the market value of, say, AT&T, and distribute that back to counties so property tax is a stable income for locals. We are also responsible for supervision of local assessing officials and local assessing programs,” Davis said. “We go in and determine the level of assessment and quality of assessment that a local assessor is doing.”

That work can be quite intensive, Davis said.

“If there are problems we can withhold state funds from that county. We can address any particular problem that we see, including speaking with the local prosecuting attorney,” Davis said. “Generally we like to stay away from that, but during the last biennial assessment we had, I think, 29 cases of counties we had to go in and take actions.”

Those actions included recent assessment problems in Texas County, but Davis said there haven’t been any issues in Pulaski County requiring state tax commission action since state foundation formula changes in the 1990s.

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