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County Board hears appeals on property values

Fri, Jun 21st, 2013
Posted in All Government

By Karen Reisner

The Fillmore County Board of Appeal and Equalization convened the evening of June 18. County Assessor Cynthia Blagsvedt reviewed in detail rules and procedures, as well as facts and figures related to property values on various classes of property in the county. The board is charged with ensuring “equalization among individual assessment, between classes and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.”

Appellants can only appeal the total estimated market value determined by the assessor’s office. Any changes in value are required to be justified. A value change to one property will have an effect of shifting the tax burden among other property owners.

Blagsvedt noted that in the last two years eight cities have had their house values reduced. This year due to houses selling over 30 percent less than the market value in both Preston, Minn. and Wykoff, Minn. the house rate for those cities was reduced by 25 percent in the 2013 assessment.

Commercial/Industrial properties were increased five percent overall as properties have been selling about 13 percent on average over their market value. Agricultural properties have seen the greatest percent increase in value, about 16.5 percent overall. Grade A tillable land has increased from $5,000 per acre in 2012 to $6,200 in 2013. Pasture and wooded acres have decreased in value.

In 2012 Ag property made up 71 percent of total county value, that increased to 74 percent in 2013. Commercial property increased from three percent to 3.5 percent in 2013. Residential property represented 24 percent of total county value in 2012 and decreased to 21 percent in 2013. These changes represent a shift in the tax burden from residential to agricultural and commercial.

Beaver, Bloomfield, Bristol, Harmony, and York Townships have seen the greatest increases in their overall value due to the increase in the value of tillable land. Chatfield and Carrolton Townships have seen the least overall increases in value.

Townships saw 77 percent of the total new construction which would include farm buildings, accessory structures like manure pits, residences, and some commercial improvements. Cities had 23 percent of the new construction, which includes a small amount of Ag, residences, apartment buildings, commercial and industrial.

Harmony 2012 Commercial Reassessment

Blagsvedt explained that the Minnesota Department of Revenue had required commercial property in Harmony, Minn. be reassessed. The 2013 assessment is for taxes payable in 2014. Values on properties built from 2000 on had not included values for heating type, air conditioning, wall height, canopy entries, and site values. Omitted values allowed for lesser market values on these properties which shifts the tax burden to other properties.

Fillmore County subscribes to the Marshall and Swift Valuation Service. This is an appraisal guide to help develop replacement costs, depreciated values, and insurable values.


There were three appellants on the agenda.

Larry Hundorf, Rushford, Minn. had appealed his valuation on his residence at his local board with no change. County appraisers Heidi Knepper and Brian Hoff recently did an interior inspection of the property and recommended an adjustment to the improved parcel to be valued at $139,200.

Hundorf had the property appraised by a certified appraiser valuing it at about $123,000. He also had a local realtor put a value on the property at $132,000.

The property had been assessed at about $150,000 prior to the interior inspection.

Hundorf apparently had not previously applied for the property to be registered as a homestead. He has since done that and it will be reflected in next year’s taxes.

Hundorf asked about past tax years, complaining it was valued for a partially livable basement over the past four years, which he doesn’t have. Chairman Randy Dahl explained that the board is just empowered to deal with the valuation for the next year’s taxes or 2014. Knepper explained that there is no way for the assessor’s office to know (that there is a value included on something that does not exist), unless the property owner lets us know.

Hundorf asked about a DNR easement for the dike, suggesting his property was valued for more acreage than it should be. He was encouraged to make an appointment with county recorder David Kiehne to get that straightened out.

The board approved an adjustment, a decrease to $139,200 as recommended by Knepper.

County appraiser Ron Vikre explained he had met with Jon Kuehn (Kuehn Bros Properties, LLC), Spring Valley Township, and Kuehn was comfortable with the fixes, so his complaint was resolved prior to the meeting.

The final appellant was Torgerson Auto, Harmony. Kristen Torgerson and her father David Kiehne requested that the value increase be dropped to a five percent increase, which Kiehne insisted the market is showing. Torgerson had also appealed their valuation at their local board with no change. Torgerson said they have an 18 percent increase. Kiehne said if the market is moving, five percent, shouldn’t we let the market determine the value.

In 2012 the city of Harmony had allowed for a reduction in the property value by reducing the blacktop value. Blagsvedt said that was not appropriate as they should look at the total market value and not individual components. Blagsvedt said Torgerson Auto was part of the Harmony commercial property reassessment required by the MN Department of Revenue.

Blagsvedt insisted everyone is treated the same and she offered several comparable properties to show how all are calculated with fair and equitable values with the Marshall and Swift Valuations. Torgerson said they just want everyone to be treated the same, insisting that they are not.

After a lengthy discussion, Commissioner Chuck Amunrud said, “Having listened to the arguments, I am not convinced that we need to do an adjustment.” No adjustment was made for this property.

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