Hearing Monday for tax revaluation

Published 2:39 pm Friday, October 3, 2008

Polk residents will have another chance on Monday to give opinions on the county&squo;s new schedule of values for the 2009 property tax revaluation.

A public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Womack Building in Columbus prior to the board of commissioners regular meeting at 7 p.m.

Commissioners failed to approve the new schedule a couple of weeks ago. They raised concerns that values of some items, such as flagpoles and fences, are included even though appraisers are not currently placing values on those items.

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Commissioners directed Polk County Tax Assessor John Bridgers to delete those items from the schedule or set their values at zero. They also requested that separate categories be created for residential and commercial structures and land values.

Polk County held one public hearing on the new schedule of property tax values last month with few attending. County officials then released the proposed schedule, which could put property values about 20 percent higher than the last revaluation in 2001.

The 2009 valuation is intended to reflect true market values as of Jan. 1, 2009. The range currently in the schedule of values for single family homes is $74.10 to $93.60 per square foot, compared to $62 per square foot in 2001, the time of the county&39;s last revaluation.

County officials have said the actual square foot number for structures will be finalized around the first of December to more accurately reflect the actual values of 2009. They also say the range could begin a little lower than the current low value of $74.10 per square foot, depending on the real estate market at the time.

Polk commissioners will most likely approve the new schedule of values Monday night. The county&39;s calendar regarding the new revaluation specifies that notices of new property values will be sent to property owners in January or February of next year. The county will then hear informal appeals to notices until next April. These informal hearings will allow property owners to contest innacurate information about their property. Formal hearings in front of the Polk County Board of Equalization and Review will take place until mid-summer of next year.

Polk County commissioners have indicated that they will adjust the tax rate to reflect the new&bsp; property values. Commissioners plan to go revenue neutral, which means they will lower the tax rate so the county receives the same tax revenue it did before the revaluation. If a property&39;s value rises above the average increase for the county, that property&squo;s taxes will increase. If a property decreases in value below the average, that property&squo;s taxes will decrease.

Mobile homes will be valued differently in 2009. Specifically, single wide trailers will see a depreciation.

Barns will also be valued differently. In 2001, a barn was valued at $25 per square foot regardless of materials. Polk County now has some barns worth $1 million or more, so new categories have been added to reflect different types of barns. As a result, some property owners could see significant increases in 2009.

The county this year is attempting to make the appraisals specific to Polk County by doing the revaluation partly in house and partly by contractor. This year the county has visited every structure in the county. In 2001, a contracted firm applied general values based on property types and rates in other counties.