Fillmore County Assessor Jason McCaslin attended the March 14 regularly scheduled Whalan City Council meeting to update the council on assessments and to explain assessment procedures.
Also present at the March meeting was Mayor Marlys Tuftin, along with council members Thore E. Johnson, Sheila Higbe, Kim Berekvam and attending via Zoom was Owen Lewis. City Clerk/Treasurer Michele Peterson was also in attendance.
Tuftin added one item, Summary of Court Settlement, to the agenda under Miscellaneous. The agenda was approved with one item added under Miscellaneous.
Minutes of the February 14 regular meeting and the Treasurer’s Report were approved.Continued business
McCaslin gave a presentation to the council with the purpose of updating with this year’s assessment. “There have been some changes,” noted McCaslin.
“Our role in the property tax system is to make sure that the tax burden is spread as equally as possible according to the Minnesota statute,” stated McCaslin. “We aren’t trying to single anybody out, we are not picking on anybody,” he commented.
“While your property is physically inspected every five years, and that is according to Minnesota state statute that we have to do that, we have to value it every year,” explained McCaslin. “So I review sales of properties in the jurisdiction along with trends of what has happened in the jurisdiction over the past couple years just to provide some direction on what to do with values.”
Assessment statistics must be maintained at a compliant level, including Median Ratio, Coefficient of Dispersion and Price Related Differential. The Minnesota Department of Revenue is the oversight agency for the assessor’s office.
One important point made was that changes in market activity can cause your property’s value to change even when you have done nothing to your property or if appraisal staff have not inspected it recently. That is due to the compliance levels that must be maintained.
The Department of Revenue calculates the percentage of inflation or deflation which must be incorporated in the valuation of the jurisdiction. Time Adjustments are a significant issue to address this year.
Time adjustment is an adjustment that is applied every year, but most years it is just a couple percent. “This year in a lot of jurisdictions, time adjustments have been in the teens and up to 20%,” stated McClasin. “I have never seen adjustments of that scale,” he added.
“Some of these changes are unprecedented in my eyes,” stated McCaslin. “I haven’t seen this kind of activity before.”
McCaslin made no market adjustments to Whalan this year. Whalan is actually the only jurisdiction that he did not make the market adjustment upward.
If you wish to appeal your assessment, it is important to do it at the correct time. “What I saw both last year and the year before was that a lot of the taxpayers were bringing in their questions or appeals when they get their Truth in Taxation notice in November. When that time comes, basically our hands are tied, there is not a whole lot we can do,” stated McCaslin. The time to ask questions or appeal is after you receive your Notice of Evaluation.
Anyone can review assessment and tax information online. The Beacon website beacon.schneidercorp.com has tax and CAMA data for individual properties in Fillmore County. It is a good idea for property owners to check their property information on the website to make sure all of the information is correct.
Resolution 2022-05 Reestablishing Precincts and Polling Places, and 2021 Financial Statement were approved.
The council also approved Resolution 2022-06 Findings of Fact – Murphy Street Vacation Request. The street vacation request was not approved at the February 2022 council meeting.
A court settlement has been reached for former Whalan City Clerk Lolly Melander. Melander had previously pled guilty to one count of theft by swindle. Melander was ordered to provide restitution to the City of Whalan in the amount of $9,638.00. Part of the settlement also included 120 days in the Fillmore County jail, and probation for 10 years with the possibility of early discharge from probation if certain conditions are met. “It’s been about two years, I think, since we have been dealing with this situation and so the settlement has finally been reached,” stated Tuftin.
“The individual had been bonded so the city has also received $5,000 in the bonding insurance we carry for the clerk position,” noted Tuftin. The city has already received that amount.
“So the case has ended, and a resolution has been reached and we will continue on,” stated Tuftin. “The city has made a number of changes in the way we conduct our business as well, so hopefully these kind of situations will not occur again,” she added.
The next Whalan City Council meeting will be held on Monday, April 11, at 5 p.m. at the city hall. For more information phone (507) 467-2212 or visit the City of Whalan website at www.cityofwhalan.weebly.com.