Citywide home reassessment begins in MitchellAssessors to establish new values of residential properties for tax purposes
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Davison County Director of Equalization Kathy Goetsch said her staff has begun the task of reassessing more than 5,500 residential properties in the city of Mitchell.
Goetsch, in a report Tuesday to county commissioners at the courthouse in Mitchell, estimated the process will take four years to complete. After that time, she hopes to keep assessment visits on a regular six-year cycle.
“We need to get on track to update properties rather than just catching up,” she said.
Echoing comments made prior to the reassessment of Mitchell commercial properties several years ago, Goetsch said, “In some cases, we’ll be looking at properties which have not been visited since 1988.”
Goetsch has been playing catch-up with assessments since she got the job in 2006. An assessment is the value to which tax rates are applied for property tax payments.
Last year, reassessment updates dramatically raised the assessed values on many Mitchell commercial properties. Goestsch said the changes should not be as excessive with residential properties.
“I’m hoping it’s not going to be horrible,” she said, “but in cases where someone has remodeled their house without taking out the required building permits, assessments could rise substantially.”
She explained that valuation increases were not ignored for properties that have not received a visit, but the periodic increases that were added may not accurately reflect the true market values. Those values could go up or down with the reassessment visits.
The reassessment procedure will make things better for those taxpayers who are currently shouldering too large a share of the overall tax burden, Goetsch said.
“We firmly believe we will be decreasing inequities as we go,” she said.
Goetsch said Mitchell assessments will be completed, moving from south to north, over the next four years. That process, which has already begun, is not moving as swiftly as anticipated because she has had to train two new assessors this year.
Assessors are currently working on the 2013 assessment year for taxes payable in 2014.
After Nov. 1, assessors will begin working on the assessments for 2014, which will be payable in 2015.
New estimate policy
Goestch asked for and received the commissioners’ permission to establish a new “estimate policy.” In the past, she explained, her office has tried to provide estimates of value or estimates for Tax Increment Financing districts to the public, but it will no longer continue to do so.
Goetsch expressed concern that continuing the practice might create a liability for the county.
Too many variables are outside the control of her office, Goetsch said, that do not allow for accurate forecasts of property valuations.
Instead, she said, the Office of Equalization will provide the person requesting such information a worksheet they can use to calculate the appropriate tax, along with the current levy, and taxable factor available at the time the request is made.
Not poking around
In another matter, Goetsch objected to a complaint aired by Daily Republic reader Mark Bunker in a letter to the editor Saturday.
Bunker complained that tax assessment visits are a violation of privacy and that assessors should not be allowed to poke around homes and peer into closets.
Goetsch said her assessors put on shoe covers during a home visit and try to keep their business on a professional basis.
“I don’t want assessors looking in closets,” she said. “We have no business there. We’re not looking at your personal property; we’re looking at ceilings, walls and plumbing fixtures. Our goal is to assess the homes at market value and to treat (taxpayers) fairly.”
In a move that will save the county about $1,000 a year, Goetsch received the commission’s approval to do away with the county-subsidized cell phones used by members of her office.
She said carrying another phone has turned out to be a burden for her assessors, who prefer using their personal phones for business use since all employees already have unlimited texting and calling plans.