They pay virtually no property taxes, then sell their under-taxed land to public schools for millions. 

COLUMBIA, Mo 10/25/13 (Op Ed) --
With the city's perennial approval of property tax and bond issues, it's become a rule of thumb that Columbia provides undying support to our public schools.
But like so many rules, public school support is for the little people -- not prominent families named Pugh, Atkins, and now Sapp, who make truckloads of money selling over-priced land to the school district, paid for with the tax dollars of all those diehard school supporters.  

Adding insult to injury:  Boone County's Assessor ignores Missouri law, letting the families sit on the land almost tax-free until it's time to develop or sell out.  

For the nearly three decades he's held public office, Tom Schauwecker has practiced the so-called "Fake Farmland Scam":  classifying prime development land as "farmland" so it qualifies for Missouri's ultra-low farmland property tax rates.  

News the mega-developer Sapp family of Thornbrook and Old Hawthorne fame extracted $2.8 million from Columbia Public Schools for a 36-acre elementary school site abutting Thornbrook isn't going over with taxpayers on a local forum questioning the sky-high price and out-of-the-way location.

"This will lead to additional expansion of a city that has already annexed beyond its capability to provide services and infrastructure.  Nice!"  wrote one commenter. 

"The public interest should have some priority.  $80,000 an acre????"  wrote another. 

Owner Jane Sapp's obvious ruse -- that her family would "never sell the land" -- is also under fire.

"'I shall not sell.   It has been in my family for years.'  But for a price, I shall sell it to Columbia Public Schools."

"When you buy from someone that does not want to sell, you pay too much.   When you are spending someone else's money, you pay too much." 

Even the fake farmland scam -- which this publication first disclosed back in 2008 -- came up. 

"The real travesty is the amount of school taxes the Sapps have been paying on this $2.8 million dollar property," wrote another commenter.   "Last year they paid $1,390 in school taxes.  Any other commercial property valued at $2.8 million would be paying over $40,000 in school taxes.  Anybody think this is fair taxation?"

But "fair" has nothing to do with it among Columbia's richest, most prominent families.   Neither does support of public education. 

-- Mike Martin