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County assessor Zimmerman wrongly singles out casino industry

County assessor Zimmerman wrongly singles out casino industry

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St. Louis County Tax Assessor Jake Zimmerman is wrong in his approach to valuation of the Maryland Heights casino barge. The arbitrary values he has placed on the barge and casino that houses the gaming emporium — formerly Harrah's and now Hollywood — is unfair. He has used the sale price of the recently purchased casino as his basis to justify the outrageous assessment he placed on the barge. What his constituents in the county may not know is that Zimmerman set those valuations well before the casino was ever sold.

At what point will politicians like Zimmerman stop using political rhetoric and instead employ common sense and fairness in their treatment of business in this state? The value of a casino is only partially in the bricks and mortar of the building; or in this case the steel and bolts of a barge. The value of the property includes its gaming license and the customer database. This is no different than any other business — the value lies in the customers and the ability to do business — not the body it's housed in. We can assure you, the steel and bolts of the casino barge is not worth the $502 million Mr. Zimmerman suggests. To put it in perspective, the average cost to build an ocean liner is $500 million and the Titanic would cost roughly $400 million to construct in today's dollars.

It is disturbing that a bureaucrat has the power to single out an industry in which to arbitrarily increase taxes. It leaves other businesses and industries wondering when they will be targeted next.

Daniel P. Mehan  •  Jefferson City

President and CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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