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Get ready for tax bill sticker shock

Staff writer

This year’s residential property appraisals increased an average of 12.2% countywide.

That increase will hit homeowners when they get annual tax bills in December.

Anyone who wants to avoid an unexpected tax increase might want to take action now.

“They can appeal their values, and this is the time to do it,” county administrator Tina Spencer said. “If they wait until they get their tax bill, they can appeal then, but they will have to pay half their taxes under protest.

“What people should be doing now is looking at their appraisal and setting a hearing for an appeal. Values set now will affect the tax bills that are paid in December.”

Appraiser Nikki Reid said her office attempted to comply with state regulations on property appraisals.

A four-year average of sales prices is calculated. This year’s appraisals were based on property sale prices from 2020 through 2023.

Property sold at high prices, often above asking prices, in 2021 and 2022, Reid said.

“In 2023, listing prices were still high, but we would see them reduced,” she said.

Prices are gleaned from open-market sales by real estate agents.

With an open-market sale, people fill out validation forms during closing. The appraiser’s office gets those forms when a property is transferred.

Appraisers also check social media and websites such as Zillow.com and Realtor.com.

Private sales and some auction sales don’t qualify as open-market sales and don’t figure into the formula used by appraisers.

The largest increases were in the central to southern portion of the county, Reid said.

Cities such as Lincolnville, Ramona, and Tampa didn’t see as high of an increase.

Hillsboro and Marion have more of a real estate market and sell more houses than other areas. Lehigh, Peabody, Florence, and Goessel also had higher sales.

“Using that average is what created the increase in values,” Reid said.

Governmental units approve budgets in August and September. They set a tax levy but often publicize an estimated tax rate that would generate the levied amount.

The actual tax rate and bills are not calculate until October or November, when the amount levied is divided out, over to the total valuation in the taxing district.

With appraisals increasing, the same tax rate would result in larger bills to property owners and more tax money to governmental units.

A so-called revenue neutral rate must be calculated and publicized during budgeting That is the rate at which total tax revenue would stay the same.

“We don’t have the final evaluation until October or November, and that’s when we calculate the mill levy for the budgets,” Spencer said.

Tax bills are sent out at that time.

Commissioner Jonah Gehring said at the end of Monday’s meeting of county commissioners that commissioners would have to be mindful of increased evaluation when the county sets its 2025 budget.

“We need to work to pull the mill levy down,” Gehring said. “They’re not freaking out on their taxes, but they will when their tax bills come out. We’ll have to work on the next budget.”

In other county business Monday, commissioners approved a $12,500 bid from Hett Excavation to demolish the former county food bank to make room for construction of a prefabricated health department building expected to cost $1.5 million.

Last modified March 13, 2024

 

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