County Administrator Bobbie Hillery administered the oath to county commissioners and Auditor/Treasurer Christy Smith as Board of Appeal & Equalization members at the June 14 public meeting.
County Assessor Jason McCaslin began by explaining the assessor’s role in the property tax system. The tax burden is to be distributed evenly and according to Minnesota statutes. Each property is to be physically inspected every five years. Valuations fluctuate based on market activity and sales, even when no changes are made to your property.
Assessment statistics are required to be maintained at a compliant level with a median ration of 90% to 105%. If the median ratio is outside of this range, a market adjustment is applied. McCaslin reviewed Coefficient of Dispersion which helps identify that which is necessary to correct non-compliance. Every sale is adjusted by the Department of Revenue as if it happened on January 2.
Fillmore County residential median sale ratios were below compliance at 77.25%, requiring adjustment to bring them into compliance. The majority of properties were below the compliant range. Residential adjustments were applied to the house value in each jurisdiction.
There are three classifications of agricultural properties. Agricultural tillable land values were increased by 10%. Value of timber land was increased by 52%. The average value of tillable land in Fillmore County is $6,800 per acre.
Commercial values in Spring Valley were reduced and a reassessment of commercial properties in Rushford, Harmony, and Preston has begun.
McCaslin explained “tax shifts.” Tax liability can shift between property types due to valuations; this doesn’t increase or decrease the amount of revenue collected.
When a property owner gets the notice of valuation near the end of March, the appeals process can begin. First, call the assessor’s office to get an explanation for the valuation. If not satisfied, go to Local Board of Appeal & Equalization meeting, if your jurisdiction has one. If there is a local board, one must appeal there to be eligible to appeal to the county board. If still not satisfied at the county level, one can file with the tax court (deadline is April 30).
The 2022 assessment has resulted in an overall increase in residential market valuations of 16.4% in Fillmore County. Counties in the southeast region of Minnesota have seen residential increases from 12 to 23%.
McCaslin concluded noting assessment and tax information data is available to anyone. The Beacon website has tax and CAMA (computer assisted mass appraisal software) data for individual properties in Fillmore County.
The owner was not present but had questioned the valuation of a vacant lot in Mabel that she did not believe was buildable. The appraiser considered it a buildable lot for a 46-foot by 46-foot home. No action was taken.
A gentleman who was present had questions about lots he owned in Harmony on the edge of the city limits that had been deemed residential lots. He said there were sink holes, no water, no sewer, and he didn’t intend to ever sell them for residential lots. He had not gone first to his Local Board of Appeal & Equalization as required. No action was taken as recommended by the appraiser.
The county has four appraisers including Andy Hillery, Justin Kraling, Ryan Welscher, and Kayla Pierce.
Twelve appeals were approved. One of the appraisers described each parcel and the reason for the appeal. Each owner had gone through the process to have a valuation decreased.
Reasons for the valuation adjustments included a structure on the wrong parcel, a single-story home improperly listed as a two-story home, an unfinished basement valued as finished, quality discrepancies, quality deficiencies in home’s interior, home gutted and under renovation (will be reassessed at end of year), general quality deficiencies, more wasteland than listed on rural vacant land, and pasture instead of tillable on rural vacant land.