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Friday, May 6, 2016

Council investigates reassessment issues

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

For the second month in a row, questions about the reassessment and a complete review and possible reform of the county's land information took the majority of the County Council's discussion time.

Assessor C.R. Boyd fielded a number of questions about his request for $500,000 from the county's reassessment fund before the council left it on the table for another month at their monthly meeting Monday night.

In brief, the $500,000 would be used to review all of the county's land data, check for mistakes in the assessor's office's software, and perform other, less important functions.

Boyd said that the decision to postpone a physical review of land came from Township Trustee/Assessors, not him.

"It was decided not to spend that money then," he said.

The audit, as Boyd called it, would blanket the entire county, finding additions and improvements made to land. The information collected would be compared to data in the computer system and fixed to match if necessary.

Some data itself is probably corrupted, he added, as his office changed software.

"When you get data and you transfer it from one format to another, it isn't always going to work like it's supposed to," he said.

The reassessment fund currently contains an approximate $1.5 million. It was noted that the fund currently spends approximately $16,000 more than it makes annually.

Boyd said the process would take at least a year to perform and would probably require the use of outside companies, hopefully ones with local employees. The trustees themselves cannot do it because most of them are not qualified, he said.

A benefit to the audit, he said, would be the fact that these new numbers could be applied to the 2009 reassessment, voiding the need for yet another one. The base rate on property will not rise unless additions were made. However, the tax rate generally rises slightly every year.

The new numbers will be applied to the 2005 pay 2006 taxes.

"It seems to me that if we haven't gone out and physically looked things over in over nine years it's time we did," Councilman Mike McCullough said.

"I don't think (the trustees) voted against spending the $500,000," Councilman Les Harding added. "I think they just voted against doing the work."

The council has allowed the spending of over $150,000 reassessment-related jobs in the last four years. Some confusion arose over exactly what was done with this money.

"It seems to me like we're throwing money at something that ain't being done," Harding said.

Paperwork provided to the council showed that, among other projects, the assessor's office used the money to have cornerstones certified by a licensed surveyor ($25,000), established new land values ($5,400), and implemented the new software system ($50,537 in 2002 and $20,495 in 2003).

In the end, the proposal was left on the table pending a few actions by the council.

Auditor Joe Dierdorf said that he planned to visit the Department of Local Government Finance early next week to see what alternatives existed, if any. McCullough said that he'd like to see more specific examples of the work needed.

"I'd like to see more proposals instead of giving you a blanket of money," he said. "People will be able to take that a lot easier than a whole $500,000."

Among other topics, the council also approved a public hearing on a 10-year personal property tax abatement for local company PDF.

Additionally, they approved salary adjustments for Sheriff's Department employees who have passed their probationary pay period.

The Clay County Council meets the first Monday of every month at 6 p.m. The public is invited.

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