Officials are urging farmers and property owners dealing with flooding to quickly contact the Davison County Equalization Office if they hope to adjust the assessment value on their land.
The deadline for those assessment adjustment requests is Friday, said Kathy Goetsch, director of equalization for Davison County.
“We realize if they were flooded the last thing on their mind is their value, but now we’re trying to get the word out that if you have something that won’t be replaced (by Nov. 1), we’ll come out and adjust,” Goetsch said.
Goetsch said the deadline applies to both farmers who have had growing land inundated with water for three consecutive years as well as county landowners who suffered damage to their property over the course of the year that will not be repaired or replaced by Nov. 1. Any assessment adjustments would be reflected on the landowner’s 2021 property tax bill.
People have been responding to the request. Goetsch said some farmers have been coming in to the office to explore options.
“If there is any farmer that has had water on their land for three consecutive growing seasons, they can apply for an inundated farmland adjustment, and we have had some in here,” Goetsch said.
Some farmers deal with flooding to an extent every growing season, but Goetsch said this particular adjustment request only applies if the same cropland has been flooded for three consecutive years. This year has seen a large amount of cropland flooded due to heavy rains in the spring and summer, but not all of it has been underwater for three consecutive years.
But even if farmers don’t necessarily qualify for the inundated farmland adjustment, Goetsch said it was still a good idea to contact their local equalization office to keep them up to date on the status of their land.
“For some, it could be year one (of their land flooding),” Goetsch said of some farmers dealing with excessive water this year. “But it would be nice if they touched base with us so we know if they were in this situation the year before.”
She encouraged farmers to contact the equalization office in their county and have a few items on hand to help. A map and details about the history of the land is helpful.
“They should bring a Farm Service Agency map showing us the area and circling it, since those valuations are determined by crop type, and where it is situated so we can make a correct adjustment,” Goetsch said.
And the equalization office staff is more than happy to answer questions, she said.
“They should give us a call if they have any questions. It’s our job to get out there and look at that,” she said.
Goetsch said the staff at the equalization office has been in the process of their yearly rural evaluation in recent months, including assessment of property damage within the city of Mitchell.
That damage may include a flooded finished basement that resulted from the summer rains this year, Goetsch cited as an example.
But it’s not just flood damage that may make someone eligible. Assessment adjustment requests are available every year for any kind of change that may occur to property. Anything that could change the value of the property - such as a structure fire or the construction of new buildings - should be noted by owners, Goestch said.
The staff at the equalization office keeps tabs on such events through local media and makes a point to examine serious cases that may change the tax bill for owners. If there are changes to the property in question, owners are encouraged to check in with their local county equalization office.
“There will be the occasional fire. If something is in the paper, we’re going to go by there,” Goestsch said. “It can be any damage, and people should contact us anytime of the year. If they take some grain bins down, they should tell us that sort of thing.”
Goestsch said the Davison County Equalization Office has four assessors on staff and all have been keeping busy with regular assessments and any special requests. She estimated the staff have logged about the same number of miles traveling the county as in an average year, seeing as the group travels extensively every year.
But, like many others around the region, they also had to deal with the aftermath of this year’s flooding. She said flooded roads and washed-out bridges made navigating around the county trickier this year than in most, but that it was all part of the job of making sure taxpayers get a fair assessment of their property.
“That did slow us down a bit, but we’ll keep at it,” Goetsch said. “It’s our job to get out there and look at that. That way they can understand what we do and we can understand their situation. Our goal is to be fair regardless.”
Information on valuation adjustments and contact information can be found on the Davison County Equalization Office website at www.davisoncounty.org/departments/equalization-office/