County set to begin reappraisal project

The Hettinger County Reappraisal Project is nearing the start date. On May 11 appraisers from a company called Vanguard will go door to door inspecting taxable commercial and residential real estate.

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By COLE BENZ | HERALD EDITOR | cbenz@countrymedia.net

The Hettinger County Reappraisal Project is nearing the start date. On May 11 appraisers from a company called Vanguard will go door to door inspecting taxable commercial and residential real estate.

Hettinger County Director of Tax Equalization Paula Fedder said this process should have been done years ago, and the process to get to this point has been a few years in the making and said this is “long overdue.”

Right now, property information with the county is antiquated, and in some cases, non-existent. Property cards in Mott date back to 1977, and there are none for New England or Regent.

The real catalyst for the reappraisal project, according to Fedder, is study done by the state of North Dakota. The state did a sales ratio study which finds the discprency between sales of property, and what the county has the property valued at. Since records date back nearly 40 years, the numbers are significantly off.

“the state says that we need to be within 90 percent of what sales prices are,” Fedders said. “I would say we are definitely below that.”

Outside of the sales and values discrepancy, it is state law that counties keep this kind of information, so this project will also make sure the county is in compliance with state law.

Fedder said she signed the contract with Vanguard in 2013, and this was the first time they could get out to the county.

Fedder said she was familiar with Vanguard prior to starting the process. The president of the company has been hired by the state to run training certification sessions, and the company has significant work experience in this state.

Vanguard has previously worked with Bowman, Dickinson and Dunn County.

Time was a large consideration when deciding to hire an outside company to do this work.

“It was still beyond the scope of what I’d be able to do and to be able to do it timely,” Fedder said.

The preliminary work includes visiting the property, taking measurements, noting interior characteristics and taking a photo of the exterior of the property. Fedder didn’t think that the home visits would take very long.

“I would suspect they wouldn’t be at any one residence more than 15 minutes,” Fedder said. “It’s not going to be an extended period of time.”

Appraisers will make three attempts to contact the property owner for the inspection. If the appraiser cannot make it inside then they will go through an estimation process. They would also estimate if the owner refused entry.

The only time they won’t make multiple attempts, according to Fedder, would be for houses outside of town.

For those properties the appraisers will leave a door hanger form and can be filled out by the property owner.

After the preliminary work is finished, the appraiser will take the data and calculate the values. Then a review appraiser will actually go back to every property and double check the data and set the final value. After the values are set, notices of increase will be sent out to properties with value changes large enough to trigger them. In order to trigger a notice of increase, the property value must change by $3,000 or more and 10 percent or more.

Given that the previous records are decades old or don’t exist, Fedder said there is a good chance most properties will get a notice.

The values will be put on 2016 and notices will be sent out by January. After that, informal meetings will be held prior to the equalization meetings for people with any questions regarding the set values.

Fedder reiterated that these appraisals are only on taxable commercial and residential property.

“If your home has an exemption because it’s a farm residence, or your ag building is exempt, they’re only looking at taxable real estate,” Fedder said.

Tax ramifications are undetermined at this point, because when calculating taxes there are more factors than just property value. On the Notice of Increase statements, it says that “the form notice prescribed by the tax commissioner must require a statement to inform the tax payer that an assessment increase does not mean property taxes on the parcel will increase.”

Fedder was told that inspecting the whole county would not take more than a few weeks. They start on May 11 and she was told they should be done by Memorial Day.

The appraisers will report to the city and the Sheriff’s Department with their vehicle descriptions and they will be carrying identification to present to the property owners at the time of inspections.

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