May 8, 2006

Property Appraisals and Appeals


If you have been following the reports in the Monticello News about what goes on in the Board of Assessors (BOA) meetings, you might recall that in February, 2006 the following was reported:

"In perhaps the most important part of the office update, Mrs. Bentley provided assessors a timeline for a timely tax digest with a May 15 target date for the mailing of assessment notices. "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure we're ready," said the deputy chief appraiser."

It looks like this goal will become a reality, and it will be the first time in MANY years that this has happened!

With less than 2 years working in the BOA office, Lynn Bentley has already succeeded in passing Appraiser I, II, and III tests. She has been appointed as the new Chief Appraiser--and one that is working to get things done in a timely manner.

There was some frustration shown by Mrs. Bentley at recent Board of Equalization (BOE) meetings. Everyone attending these meetings had to admit there are problems. The past Chief Appraiser gave random discounts to please those that protested their values, which in turn caused a lack of uniformity among properties.

Mrs. Bentley is working hard and working long hours to get things corrected, but it will take a year or more. The more problems she sees and hears, the more she realizes how many problems were never addressed in the past and how randomly setting values without any reason (or policies and procedures) has lead to inequities between and among properties.

The BOA has done a good thing by promoting Mrs. (Lynn) Bentley. It may be a year or 2, but we predict she'll have that office and the property records in the best shape they've ever been. Just give her a little time!

Property appraisals and appeals

Re-evaluation notices are going out to property owners in Jasper County according to the Monticello News (see story below). Based on the report of what happened at the last BOA meeting, Mrs. Bentley had reviewed approximately 2,211 real property assessments with an increased value of $90,679,304 as well as 255 personal property assessments with an increased value of $2,451,491.

If you get a notice, here are some things to look for and consider:

Your appraisal will be divided in three parts:

Improvements: Which is your home

Accessories: Paved driveways, fences, pools, wells, septic tanks, etc.

Land: This is your lot, with nothing on it.

You need to check the assessments of the lots around you to see that they are uni­ form in value based on such things as location, topography, and other external factors.

You can get a copy of any property record card showing the assessed values of that property at your county tax assessor’s office for 25 cents a page. These records are public records and fall under open records laws.

You have 45 days from the date of notice to appeal your assessment if you feel it is in error; however you must have a basis for an appeal other than “it’s too much.” You can appeal on value, uniformity or taxability or a combination of these factors.

The Monticello News, May 4, 2006

Assessment Notices To Arrive Soon

Susan Jacobs 04.MAY.06

Jasper County property owners should be on the lookout for assessment notices in their mailbox next week .

During the regular meeting of the Board of Assessors Tuesday afternoon, newly appointed chief appraiser Lynn Bentley said that she had reviewed approximately 2,211 real property assessments with an increased value of $90,679,304 as well as 255 personal property assessments with an increased value of $2,451,491.

Assessors Jim Harrell, Cathy Benson, and Gerald Bramblett voted to approve mailing those notices along with a tax maintenance office brochure prepared by TBS, the mailing service who will be sending the notices.

Mrs. Benson inquired as to whether TBS had the correct information for the notices so as to avoid the printing error that occurred earlier this year when tax bills were mailed with an incorrect exemption deadline.

Assessors also awarded Traylor Business Services the personal property revaluation contract, pending a review of the proposed contract by county attorney John Nix. The company submitted the lowest bid, $89,500, of three companies received. Funds for the revaluation project were included in the 2006 budget, said the chief appraiser.

Assessors instituted a new conservation use (CU) policy, slated to begin in 2007, during Tuesday's meeting . The new policy requires more rigid guidelines and increased documentation for bona fide agricultural use of the property. The current guidelines will elapse at the conclusion of this year.

The chief appraiser's report included a review of the 2006 sales ratio report. Jasper County's final overall totals for all fair market sales totaled .3947 as the median ratio which meets the state required ratio of .38 to .42. The county's price related differential (PRD) totaled 1.0149 and coefficient of dispersion (COD) totaled .1297, the state requires a .95 to 1.05 PRD and less than .1500 for residential sales.

The report also included an analysis of sales in various areas of the county. Those areas included improved Turtle Cove interior lots and golf course lots, Sky Ranch hangar lots, Templeton Heights lakefront lots, Cedar Creek Subdivision, and tracts in northern Jasper more than 15 acres.

Mrs. Bentley said that she was hoping to offer one-of-two candidates the personal property vacancy in the office by Friday. Chairman Harrell said that the new employee would be required to obtain a level II appraiser status within two years.

The chief appraiser also praised former employee Cheri Phipps-Shaw for her work on the personal property digest before vacating the position. At the close of Mrs. Bentley's office update, the assessors voted unanimously to upgrade her employment status from deputy chief appraiser to chief appraiser at $45,000 per year. A request to allow her to serve as chief appraiser had been submitted to the state Dept. of Revenue weeks ago but has yet to solicit a response although she is listed on their website as chief appraiser.

In other business, assessors granted one CU exemption after an appeal with the applicant; denied another exemption appeal; denied one homestead review; breached two CU covenants with prejudice; decided to post one possible CU breach at the Courthouse for the lack of an address; gave a 21-day notification to a possible CU breach; approved several error and release forms; and denied Providence Baptist Church an exemption on 180 acres.

Assessor appointees Jody Claborn and John Graham attended the meeting and will be taking the assessor course in July. Phyllis Norwood was scheduled to take an educational course in the fall.


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** We advocate more open government, less government spending, and lower property taxes.

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