Ransdall will be only State Tax Commissioner with agriculture background
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2009 11:17 am
Bill Ransdall is sworn in Tuesday by Associate Circuit Judge Greg Warren as the newest Missouri State Tax Commission member.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Nov. 5, 2009) — In his new role on the Missouri State Tax Commission, Bill Ransdall will be the only person with an extensive agricultural background on the three-member board that supervises setting of property values. That’s a key issue for many rural Missouri counties where agricultural land value is a significant part of tax assessments.
“I think I’ll be working on setting the agriculture prices of land or at least working on getting indoctrinated on that,” Ransdall said. “It’s going to be very interesting; we don’t set tax levies, we set values and assist the assessors in doing their job. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be challenging, it’s a lot of work.”
Ransdall said that the University of Missouri also assists the Missouri State Tax Commission in setting the prices of agricultural land. The commission’s additional roles include setting values for railroads, utilities, and pipelines.
That won’t be easy, he said.
“That office used to have almost a hundred people in it; it now has a little over 50 with the budget cuts so everybody is working harder and working smarter,” Ransdall said.
Ransdall, who is a cattle rancher and owned several other local businesses for many years, has been a fixture in local politics for more than three decades — 30 years, 10 months, and three days to be precise, he said Tuesday during a ceremony at the Pulaski County Courthouse swearing him in as a member of the State Tax Commission.
He’ll earn slightly more than $105,000 per year for a job that is legally required to be full-time, which forced him to resign not only from the Pulaski County Commission but also from the State Soil and Water Districts Commission, from two non-profit economic development organization boards, the Pulaski County Growth Alliance and the Leonard Wood Institute, and from his role as a compensated employee of Rastur Development Company, which he founded with several other area businessmen to demolish old Fort Leonard Wood housing and sell reusable items at a discount price.
Terms on the Missouri State Tax Commission are six years long, but Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Ransdall to a vacancy in a term that expires on Jan. 23, 2012. He joins two other members with many years of experience on a three-member board which is legally required to have at least one member of each political party, and while he takes office immediately on an interim basis, his nomination will be subject to State Senate confirmation when the legislature reconvenes next year.
Ransdall said he was grateful that Nixon appointed him to the Missouri State Tax Commission and took questions from media at a Tuesday morning press conference explaining his new role.
The Missouri State Senate is controlled by Republicans and both Ransdall and Nixon are Democrats. Ransdall didn’t directly answer media inquiries on whether he anticipates problems with being confirmed.
“There will be a lot of Republicans appointed at the same time,” Ransdall said. “Most of these boards, as this one, are required to have members from each party, so Republicans and Democrats are filling out mandatory appointments.”
The State Tax Commission was established in 1945, Ransdall said, and while it’s a lower-profile role than many of his previous functions as a member of the Waynesville city council, as Waynesville mayor, and as state representative, his new duties require extensive travel and interaction with elected county assessors all over Missouri.
Although Ransdall had declined to be considered for earlier positions at the state level, he said he felt free to accept the State Tax Commission appointment after family considerations were resolved.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that earlier in the year I was asked if I’d have an interest in coming back to state government,” Ransdall said. “My father was ill and I declined; he passed away in July. The governor’s office staff has contacted me a couple of times and (asked if) I would be interested or there’s something I might be good at.”
“This time when they asked me about the state tax commission, I think everybody knows that I’m a numbers person, I like budgets, I like numbers, I like forecasting, and this is kind of an awesome responsibility,” Ransdall said, noting that schools, cities, counties, and others depend on the setting of property values by the state tax commission.
Ransdall said what he’ll most enjoy about his new duties is the challenge of setting values, working with a 50-member staff, and going out to counties rather than only remaining in Jefferson City.
“We’re also going to be out in the field a lot and I plan on going out to visit a lot of the assessors,” Ransdall said. “You need to establish a trust with them, not that you’re coming in to tell them what to do — it’s not that deal of ‘I’m here with the government and I’m here to help you.’ You’ve got to go out and establish a trust with them and then help them if they have a problem.”