County board balks at appraisal costs
Kimball County Assessor Sherry Winstrom again proposed a county-wide third-party reassessment of all Kimball County properties to the Board of Equalization on Tuesday, June 21.
At a previous BOE meeting Winstrom noted that as she worked on the market depreciation for the new cost tables she found that the market depreciation was “off-the-wall with all of the homes that were in town.”
Following the first request for the revaluation, and citing that she was under a deadline to complete the new cost tables for Kimball County, the board requested that Winstrom first seek an extension on that deadline from the State Liaison before they would consider the idea of hiring a third-party appraiser.
Winstrom reported that the state deadline to bring the cost tables current is March 19, 2017. To that end, she was accompanied at this most recent meeting by Darrel Stanard of Stanard Appraisal Services, Inc.,
This appraisal would include all classes of properties throughout the county and would be conducted by Stanard at just under $181,000, well above the previously stated cost of “slightly under $100,000.”
Stanard introduced his company, with a total of 10 appraisers, each of whom has been with his company for more than a dozen years, though he added that he would use just four or five of his personnel on the Kimball County project. He also supplied 31 county references to the board.
“We don’t go into a county to see how much revenue we can generate for tax dollars,” Stanard said. “We try to be sure that, above all else, it’s equalized with everybody and that we are at market value. Equalization is critical.”
Stanard further explained that his company will defend, or correct if needed, their work and spend the days needed for appointments from residents to explain their work on any individual property.
Board member Tim Nolting questioned the difference between the tools and expertise available to Stanard and that available to Winstrom.
“We’ve got our own data bank, our own program,” Stanard said. “We have three or four different programs that we use.”
The properties to be evaluated are split into three categories, residential, rural residential and business. Stanard supplied figures for each category in addition to the grand total of the three.
“Are these figures all or nothing? We’ve got to do all three?” board member Daria Anderson-Faden asked.
Stanard suggested that the board work with Winstrom’s office to determine which categories held priority.
“I think Sherry, the assessor and you are going to have to discuss where that critical situation is,” he added.
Winstrom supplied the board with a comparison of Kimball County’s cost index with that of the rest of the Panhandle.
She added that while she understood that the price is difficult to justify, particularly in a tough budget year, the county is a decade behind updated market costs.
“Kimball has only raised value over the past ten years by .32 percent, as compared to the Panhandle at 3.15 percent,” she said. “This comparison represents valuations moving upward along side the market, it does not include any growth. I’m confident that the cost of the reappraisal, will be at least partially subsidized by the additional valuation over the next two years.”
“I would like to propose that if the total price is too much for the budget to absorb, that we do not do the reappraisal of the 451 rural houses and improvements, and totally focus on Bushnell, Dix and Kimball,” she added.
By doing this, she explained, the cost tables would be in place for later use on the rural homes and would save tax payer money off the total sum.
“Focusing the appraisal on just the towns and the villages, the cost would be $53,000. Darrel has offered to accept three payments over an adjusted time period,” she said. “My duty as your assessor is to get Kimball County up to current market values, bring uniformity to all houses and assure equalization across the county.”
Nolting questioned why Stanard would be able to complete the task within the required time frame with a team of five, but the assessor could not.
“I have a little bit of a learning curve, Tim,” Winstrom answered. “I have a new staff also. I think that having Darrel come in would be the best option for the county because people seem to think that my office is picking and choosing who they look at and that we are not being equal.”
Nolting suggested that the staff complete the work based off of cards that are completed for each property instead of doing a physical appraisal. Anderson-Faden added that in doing the work in-house the staff would learn more.
“Part of the problem that the State has is that the last six year review wasn’t exactly a complete one,” Deputy County Assessor, Annette Brower said. “The cards all say the same thing - it’s a cookie-cutter statement of ‘off site inspection’ or ‘on site inspection completed’, ‘nobody present for review’ and ‘some pictures taken’.”
“Okay, but…in fact, you (Winstrom) were in the office at that time,” Faden said.
“I was not the assessor at that time and I was not data collecting at that time and it was under a different administrative,” Winstrom said. “Whatever data happened in the field - I can not tell you that.”
Winstrom added that had the work been done properly before she was instated to her position, in 2014, the situation would not look so bleak.
“It was something that was chosen not to do, prior to when I came into office,” she said.
The board tabled the matter until the July 19 Board of Equalization meeting to allow board members time for more consideration.