Reassessment could mean property tax adjustments

Published on Thu, Dec 5, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Reassessment could mean property tax adjustments

By Meg Olson

Local property owners are getting revised valuations in the mail from the county auditor’s office. After an error in the first mailing of reassessments, property owners now have in hand the numbers that will be half of the equation for their annual tax bill.

County taxpayers in different areas all pay slices of property tax to different taxing authorities. The state school fund and local school districts make up half the property tax bill. The county, cities and road districts take about ten percent each, and the rest goes to fire, library, park, cemetery, water districts and the port.

By dividing the dollar amount each entity, such as the city or Blaine schools, will collect in its jurisdiction by the assessed valuation in that area in thousands, the county auditor comes up with a number. That number, the ”mil rate,” is the amount a homeowner will pay in taxes for every thousand dollars in property value.

By adding up all the mil rates for entities that serve an area the auditor comes up with a consolidated levy. For example, if you live in downtown Blaine, your consolidated levy is made up of a slice for the city, one for local schools, one for the Northwest Parks and Recreation district and one for libraries, on top of those everyone in the county pays: state schools, the county, conservation futures, road district and rural libraries. The total in 2002 added up to $11.90/1000 which meant someone with a $100,000 home paid $1,190 in total taxes.

The city of Blaine’s slice of the pie in 2002 was $2.79 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, down from $2.80 in 2001 despite the fact that the city council took a one-percent increase in property taxes.

In a November 25 property tax presentation city manager Gary Tomsic explained that the city could collect more tax dollars but each property owner’s tax rate would go down as the city’s assessed value went up. In 2002 the city collected one percent more tax dollars than the year before but growth added two percent to the city’s assessed valuation, which led to a slight drop in the tax rate.

The 2003 tax picture could show even more variation, since the county auditor has had teams scouring the county to reassess the value of each property. Next year’s taxes will not only be influenced by new construction values but by new values for existing development.

For example, Tomsic said, if the city’s assessed valuation went up 25 percent the mil rate would go down despite a one percent increase in tax dollars collected by the city. If a given homeowner’s property held the same value, he would pay less taxes, but if it went up, he would pay more.
If the city’s assessed valuation dropped 25 percent, the mil rate would go up, the tax burden split among less dollars in property value. Everyone’s taxes would go up.

Local property owner Sandro Westermayer pointed out another scenario, which would apply no matter which way the assessed valuation for the city as a whole went. “If the value of my property went up by $9,000 and somebody else’s went down, some of his tax burden will shift to me,” he said.

While property owner’s are getting their assessments now the city doesn’t have a total number, so the direction local taxes will take next year is still up in the air. “We expect to know in the New Year,” said city finance director Meredith Riley.

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