Uncertain real estate market impacts Polk revaluation

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Polk County is considering further adjustments to the construction values used in the property revaluation process because of uncertainty in the real estate market.

The board of commissioners met Tuesday for a third public hearing regarding the county&squo;s 2009 property tax revaluation schedule of values. Commissioners widened the range for construction values by $15 per square foot on each end of the spectrum.

Commissioners are now considering a range of $59.10 to $108.60 per square foot, compared to the previously considered $73.10 to $93.60 per square foot. If the county sets rates at the lower end of the range, property values could be less than they were during the county&squo;s last revaluation in 2001, which used a base rate of $62 per square foot.

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Appraisers say they are waiting as long as possible to set the exact price per square foot that will be used for the revaluation. Appraisers said earlier that $74 per square foot was the number they were using for residential homes, but officials have questioned whether the rate may need to come down further to accurately reflect current values.

Commissioners have reviewed the schedule of values in great detail. They held public hearings at which they went through sections and questioned how appraisers are reaching figures. Commissioners&squo; main issue through the process has been having items, such as fencing and flagpoles, included in the schedule even though currently appraisers are not considering those items in calculating the value of a property.

The latest change on Tuesday removed such items from the schedule. Another action taken was to split commercial and residential schedules into two separate books.

Commissioners corrected some final typos in the books and agreed Tuesday to consider approval of the new schedule during a regular meeting Monday.

The revaluation process has been ongoing this year and property owners are scheduled to receive notice of their new values in January or February, 2009. Commissioners have said they plan to set the county tax rate to be revenue neutral, which means that the tax rate will decrease to offset the average percentage increase in property values. The county is required by the state to revalue property every eight years.

Property owners will have until March or April to make informal appeals regarding the new property values and until this summer to file formal appeals with the county equalization and review board.