Webster supervisors field questions on taxes

Leffler: Stay aware of assessments in the spring

Members of the Webster County Board of Supervisors say they have been getting numerous questions about taxes.

But before taxes come due, homeowners receive their assessments — and people need to pay attention to those, said Supervisor Merrill Leffler.

“The first step is assessments. They get notified in the spring what the assessment is, so they have to pay attention to that in the spring,” Leffler said. “Everybody pays attention to their tax bill that comes, that’s what shocks all of us, but that’s too late.”

Webster County Assessor Angie Vinson spoke about the adjustments to assessed values that were made last year.

“Assessments are done every two years, in the odd year,” Vinson said. “If the assessor’s office does not do this, the state will come in, based on sales, and raise or lower assessments across the board. Everybody gets the same increase and decrease.”

The supervisors and assessor have worked in the past to avoid such a state order.

“For 2017 we did a sale study, and based on neighborhood to neighborhood, town to town, we determined which neighborhoods need to be raised and which need to be lowered,” Vinson said.

After assessments are sent out to property owners in the spring, anyone with questions or who thinks the amount isn’t right can contact the assessor.

“Appeals are basically in the month of April. You have a chance to do an informal appeal with the assessor,” Vinson said. “If we can’t come to an agreement you have an opportunity to go to the Board of Review. That’s an independent board of five members.”

In May 2017, then-Assessor Wesley Ray reported there had been 296 informal appeals to property assessments. Vinson was deputy assessor at the time.

Some property owners saw big increases on their land or home values in 2017, and had questions. One reason for the change that year was because some value tables hadn’t been updated for years, Ray said.

“The land tables are something that should be looked at on a regular basis,” he said in 2017. “The land is kind of the first step when you’re valuing things.”

Webster wasn’t the only county seeing increases that year. Hardin County saw about a 10 percent increase on residential values, Ray said. In Polk County, the increase was about 8 percent.

The assessor’s office does not collect taxes, or set the tax rate.

“In the spring we send out notices on your values. Any time you get something from the assessor’s office and you don’t understand it, please call,” Vinson said. “You get an assessment notice in the spring; it says at the bottom what you need to do if you feel it’s an unfair value.”

The supervisors heard on Tuesday from a Duncombe woman who said her house had been improperly classified as a frame house, when it’s really a modular home.

Vinson said the problem has been corrected. Moving forward the tax rate will be based on the new assessment. However, the home owner is still paying taxes this year on the 2017 assessment.

In other business, the supervisors approved a detour beginning on Aug. 27, when a portion of Fort Dodge’s 10th Avenue North will be closed for a storm sewer project near Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center, according to Webster County Engineer Randy Will.

The supervisors also approved final payment for a 14 1/2 mile resurfacing project finished in late July, on County Roads C56 and P66 in the Badger and Vincent area. This was paid with farm-to-market funds.