County assessments coming, likely lesser than anticipatedThese days, few people want any documents involving numbers to arrive in their mailboxes. Nevertheless, Washington County property owners should receive more of them this week, in the form of property value assessments.
By: Yvonne Klinnert, Woodbury Bulletin
These days, few people want any documents involving numbers to arrive in their mailboxes.
Nevertheless, Washington County property owners should receive more of them this week, in the form of property value assessments.
Just how those assessments are made was the topic at the Washington County Board of Commissioners workshop March 24.
Kevin Corbid, director of the property records and taxpayers services department for the county, interpreted the information. He is expected to appear at the April 7 Stillwater City Council meeting, as well.
The assessments are used to determine how property taxes will be levied on the properties by taxing jurisdictions, such as the county, the school district, and cities and townships. The current assessments will be used to levy taxes for 2010.
Overall, property owners will see reductions in the value of their property in most areas, Corbid said of the letters that will arrive soon.
“I suspect they are going to think it is not enough,” he added of the recipients of those letters.
Most cities and townships will see a reduction in overall property value assessments of 4 percent to 8 percent. The two extremes in the county are a reduction of 9.7 percent in value in Hugo to an increase in value of .6 percent in Dellwood.
Stillwater will see a reduction of 5.5 percent in its values; Woodbury experienced a reduction of 6.8 percent in values, and Cottage Grove experienced a reduction of 6.5 percent. Lake Elmo’s assessed values fell 5.1 percent.
Many property owners will say that their property values fell much more, Corbid said, and there may be a basis for their statement. The valuations are based on data collected between October 2007 and September 2008. That leaves another six months of poor market conditions that could have driven down the value of a property even more.
By law, the assessments are based only on homes sold by an owner to a buyer. In other words, “lender-mediated” or foreclosed properties sold by banks are not included in the formula used to determine the valuation of properties. However, those sales could affect the overall property values of a neighborhood.
A separate report presented to the county board, based on information from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, shows what an impact such sales may have on the process.
For example, in Stillwater in 2008, 19 percent of the homes sold were lender-mediated; 15 percent of those listed for sale in January were lender-mediated.
In Woodbury, those numbers are 23 percent and 23 percent. In Cottage Grove, they are 36 percent and 39 percent. In Lake Elmo, 22 percent of the homes sold in 2008 were lender-mediated, and 22 percent of the homes on the market in January were lender-mediated.
Who wants to know?
Obviously, property owners want to know what their assessments are, so they know on what basis they will be paying property taxes.
That is one of the reasons that there is such a lag from the time that the data is gathered for the assessments, until taxes are owed on those assessments. One reason for that is so that people have the opportunity to appeal any assessments that they may feel are unfair, Corbid said.
If residents were handed tax bills Jan. 1 based on assessments made the previous October, there would be little time to go through an appeal process.
The best thing property owners can do is talk one-on-one with someone from the county, Corbid said. Group meetings can provide some information, but usually each property has its own details that need to be reviewed, and they are best discussed in person.
The other people who use the information are boards and councils across the county who will start writing budgets during the next few months.
For one thing, the local leaders are concerned for their residents, Corbid said, and want to know how the residents in their jurisdictions are faring, and how their taxes will be adjusted.
At the same time, they need to know on what basis they will be able to write a budget for the coming year, which is why Corbid is asked to review the numbers, as he will in a week with the Stillwater City Council.
All assessment information is available on the county’s Web site at www.co.washington.mn.us/.