Skipped appraisals mount
Marion admits forgetting; county blames workload
The city of Marion has been remiss about notifying the county appraiser’s office of building permits issued. For that reason, three properties have been taxed less than they should be.
City clerk Tiffany Jeffrey notified the appraiser’s office only Friday that a building permit was issued Nov. 28, 2017, to The Billings Group for an additional building constructed at The Building Center, 143 W. Main St.
The city’s failure to notify the appraiser’s office of the 2017 building permit at the time it was issued allowed the Billings Group to avoid paying taxes on the new building.
The city sent notification after this newspaper asked Thursday whether or not a building permit had been issued for the additional building. That was a week after the newspaper discovered a building permit for Diamond H Fitness Center had not been forwarded to the appraiser’s office and the fitness center had been taxed at the rate for a vacant lot.
The Building Center property is owned by the Billings Group. John Wheeler, who is associated with the Billings Group, was at the time, a city council member.
The newspaper asked the appraiser’s office how many other building permits the city notified the office about Friday.
“We have been in communication with the city since finding this all out,” assistant appraiser Nikki Reid said Friday. “As of right now we only know about the one with The Building Center. We are waiting for a copy of it to be emailed over and then we will have an issue date.”
Jeffrey, however, gave a different answer.
“I’ve been talking to (deputy appraiser) Brian (Frese) and (assistant appraiser) Nikki (Reid) to get this resolved,” Jeffrey said. “To resolve the issue I sent them everything that we have from 2017-2020.”
Jeffrey would not give a time period for permits not being sent to the appraiser’s office and gave no reason for the delay.
She did say it is the job of nobody in particular to send them.
Reid said the city sent 22 building permits for 2017, 20 for 2018, 24 for 2019, and 25 for 2020.
Out of those, the Building Center, Diamond H Fitness, and an outbuilding added to residential property on N. Cedar St. were new to the appraiser’s office.
County appraiser Carl Miller said the appraiser’s office will retroactively value the properties for the year 2020, and assign a new 2021 value.
Owners will get a corrected valuation notice and a corrected tax statement for 2020. The corrected tax bill will show an additional amount owed for the property, Miller said. Owners will have 45 days to pay the amount, even if they pay under protest.
Miller said the appraiser’s office does visual property inspections every six years.
If employees of the appraiser’s office happen to see a new building and they were not given a building permit, it is listed on county records.
“We’ll stop at the property and list the information,” Miller said.
Asked how two businesses on Marion Main St. got missed, Miller said it simply happened.
“We’re human. It happens,” Miller. “We’re sad that it happens, but it happens.”
He said the appraiser’s office will work with Marion to remedy the problems that have taken place.
Reid said the city has agreed to send building permits quarterly, instead of annually, in the future.
Asked the value the three missed properties now and what they should have been valued since 2017, Miller said he would probably not have that answer before press time.