Concern was raised at a legislative roundtable on Friday that Marion County industrial property owners had received notice that their buildings’ assessments have increased significantly.
Marion County Assessor Drew Sanders said the letters stem from a project that began in November 2011. The Marion County Conference Board, comprised of every mayor in the county, a representative from each school board and a representative from the Board of Supervisors, voted to hire Vanguard Appraisals to reappraise all commercial and industrial property in the county.
Appraisal such as this has not been done for at least 15 years. The Assessor’s Office does not have the manpower to perform this action on its own. In the office, only Sanders is qualified to make these appraisals.
Sanders said Vanguard is an Iowa company that specializes in this kind of work. Representatives from Vanguard personally inspected every commercial and industrial property in the county to help them come to an accurate figure of what the property is worth. While some properties saw a jump in their worth, Sanders said 25-30 percent of properties in the county saw a decrease in valuation. He estimates that 45-50 percent of properties saw an increase.
During Vanguard’s work, they also discovered several acres of land, which had been categorized as agricultural, that should have been categorized as commercial.
For any property owner who disagrees with Vanguard’s assessment, an informal hearing can be requested. These hearings, scheduled for the week of March 18 at the Marion County Public Health building, will provide the opportunity for property owners to provide evidence as to why their properties should not have the values Vanguard placed on them. Sanders said everyone has a chance to have a hearing, but appointments must be made. As of Friday afternoon, Sanders said approximately 40 appointments for hearings had been set.
If an owner disagrees with the assessment, but does not want to go through a hearing, an appeal can be made to the Marion County Board of Review. Forms for this appeal can be found on the Marion County website, the Assessor’s Office or from the Iowa Department of Revenue.
In Knoxville, most increases occurred along the Highway 14 corridor, while most decreases occurred around the square. Sanders said he did not foresee the increases that have come through, but that Vanguard’s process mimicked what he would have done as the assessor.
Vanguard’s assessment meets the office’s requirement of appraising properties every two years. The values will be used to base the property taxes due in the 2014-15 fiscal year.