The County Assessor has the very important job of calculating the fair market value of every property within their county. That includes land and buildings, known as “real property.”
But County Assessors also compute values for other kinds of property known as “personal property.” Personal property includes business furnishings and equipment, motor vehicles, and manufactured homes.
It sounds simple enough, but establishing a value that is both fair and accurate isn’t easy because no two properties are exactly alike. In fact, county assessors complete special training and are required to be licensed to do their job.
Imagine you and two friends go out to dinner. One of your friends orders a hamburger, another orders lobster, and you order a salad. The final bill comes to $100. To pay for the meal, it would be easiest for the waiter to divide up the total three ways. However, it wouldn’t be fair to you because the value of lobster is much greater than salad, or even a hamburger.
County assessors don’t tell property owners how much they owe for property tax. But, like a good waiter at a restaurant, it’s the assessor’s job to make sure everyone is given a fair value for their unique property.
To do that, they use lots of tools to compare the similarities and differences of each property. These include maps and measurements, real estate sales information, and even aerial photography. These proven methods and techniques ensure that every property is assessed a fair and accurate value.
Assessors frequently re-evaluate property assessments because of the ups and downs of the market and changes to the properties themselves. For example, values tend to increase when there are greater numbers of buyers in the market or when the owner of a property decides to make improvements, such as remodeling, additions, or finishing their basement.
Once values are established they are multiplied by the local tax rate which is set by local governing authorities, such as county legislative bodies, city councils, school boards, and special service district boards. Notices disclosing the assessed value, as well as tax rates are sent to real property owners in July and personal property owners at different times during the year.
If a property owner disagrees with the value of their property they can file an appeal by September 15th each year, further ensuring the process is accurate and fair for everyone.
Assessors are just one important office at your county. Without their training, expertise, and hard work, fairness and accuracy in property values would be impossible to achieve.