Another re-evaluation on the way
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
This one won’t hurt as much as the first one.
In 2006, the Morgan County Tax Assessor’s office completed the first county-wide reevaluation in years, and the results shocked some people. The assessed fair market value of property in Morgan County climbed into the billions, and some folks (who hadn’t seen a tax increase in years and years) saw their 2007 tax bill skyrocket.
Now another reevaluation is underway, but since the new values were put in place in 2006, this one shouldn’t shock and awe the way the last one did.
“Regular reevaluations help avoid those big increases—or decreases—that people saw,” said Morgan County Chief Appraiser Chuck Anglin in an interview last week. “It also helps find mistakes in a more timely manner.”
The appraisal that is going on right now won’t make its way into residents’ mailboxes for another eight months or so. Tax bills that citizens will receive this fall are based on evaluations from 2007; the assessments based on the ongoing reevaluation will go out next spring. Those assessments will be based on the value of the owner’s property on January 1, 2009. The assessment going on now is the one that local governments will use to determine their Fiscal Year 2010 budgets.
Anglin says assessment shock next year will be unlikely.
“It won’t be as dramatic,” said Anglin. “The economy will have an impact—some of the places we see, prices are actually going down.”
In fact, assessors have to carefully watch foreclosures and downturns in the market because these can affect the fair market value of surrounding properties. This was not an important issue in the bull housing market of a few years back; now it is something local appraisers monitor closely.
“We consider every factor in developing fair, unbiased, and uniform values,” wrote Anglin in an analysis of ongoing appraisal events.
Anglin, along with seven appraisers, conducts the actual annual property evaluations and coordinates the assessment notices that will be sent out next spring. His office does not set or collect taxes—tax rates are set by the county commissioners, county school board, and local municipalities; taxes are collected by the office of Tax Commission Becky Astin.
“We have a good bunch of assessors,” said Anglin. “They are also property owners—their interests are involved.”
When county residents receive their new assessments next spring, says Anglin, they should approach the Tax Assessor’s office with problems at that time—don’t wait until the tax bills come out in the fall. Appeals are heard before the Morgan County Board of Equalization, a grand-jury-appointed board of residents that independently hears the protests of property owners. If the county and the resident can’t come to agreement there, the appeal may go to the Morgan County Superior Court.