WILMA TOWNSHIP BOARD OF APPEAL AND EQUALIZATION, APRIL 11, 2016
Chairman Glen Williamson called the meeting to order at 1 pm at the Wilma Town Hall with the Pledge of Allegiance. County Assessor Kelly Schroeder and Wilma Assessor Bob Brewster attended, plus Supervisors Mike McCullen and Gary Vink and Clerk Paul Raymond, plus Micki Johnson Simicek.
Paul read the record of last year’s Board of Equalization from Glen’s smart phone. Gary moved to approve; Mike seconded.
Micki Johnson Simicek, Parcels 32.003000 and 32.003500. She inherited this land from her father Joe Vink after he died a year ago, some with joint-ownership. She said the taxes have doubled since it is no longer classified as agricultural/homestead. She also said she cannot access the 120 acres at the end of Vink Road, unless James Doody leaves his gate open and she can use his road.
Before he died, Joe had this land clear-cut, and the stumpage and brush make the land inaccessible, even if there is access. She asked if the value would change, now that the trees are gone, and if she can retain the agricultural status. Kelly said the tax difference is significant, from 1/2% for agricultural homestead to 1% for high ground. The county does not consider the value of trees in assessments, so a forested plot is the same as a clear-cut one. If a sibling or immediate family member farms 10 tillable acres of the land, it could be classified agricultural. But Bob said if you don’t have homestead status (because you have another homestead elsewhere), there is no advantage to agricultural status. Kelly said a better option for Micki is to get a forest management plan drafted on the property and enroll in one of the two forest management programs. There is a 2C classification for forest land management. Her taxes would only go up 15% instead of double. The other program is the sustainable forest program, which does not change her taxes, but would give a payment of $7 per acre, however if she sells the land, the new owners must stay in the forest management program and it takes 4 years to get out of it. She will give Micki the information how to enroll. The deadline to apply for the 2C plan is May 1, and for sustainable forest September 30. The deadline to get a separate appraisal and appeal to the county is June 20.
Mike said there is access into these acres from the end of Wilma’s Vink Road and the west end of the Tamarack Pine Drive. That was a township road all the way from Co. Rd. 24 across the Tamarack River to the Vink Road, and the township never vacated or abandoned the road. Gary said all the trails and paths in the land are gone because of the logging, and Micki said she had a forest agent come out to evaluate and confirm the timber sales, and he couldn’t even get in to count stumps. Gary said part of Doody’s road may be on the Vink side of the property line, but Joe was conservative with his fences. Bob said if you don’t have to cross any one else’s land to get to your land, it is not no- access.
Gary said that a property owner can get a real estate agent or private appraiser to come out and do an appraisal of their land, and file an appeal with the county. Gary said his land was worth $5,000/acre when it was forested, and is only worth $200/acre now.
Bob said one reason the county doesn’t differentiate between land with trees and clear cut land is because people would buy land, clear cut the trees, and then when the land was worth less they would stop paying taxes so the land went forfeit.
Bob says when the county sells tax-forfeited land they assess it differently from the tax assessment. He said after the big blowdown in 2011, the assessed value of land didn’t change, but in sales Markville is the lowest valued township in the county. Kelly said the St.Croix Boys Camp sold to Zachary Hanson for $213,000. The state originally wanted $1.1 million for the camp two years ago, and then went down to $839,000. It sold for $213,000. The county appraised it at $493,000, and Zach will pay taxes based on the county’s appraisal, not what he paid.
Kelly had one letter from a camper/RV at the Two Creeks Campground that had been charged for another person’s camper, and for out of date plates. They send proof of license and got the tax changed.
BOARD DECISIONS: Re: Micki Johnson’s land, inaccessible. Since she does have access from Wilma Township Roads, Glen moved that there be no change in the assessment, but that she can get into the Sustainable Forest Program. Mike seconded. Gary abstained. Re: Removal from Agricultural/Homestead status, Glen moved that since it is not homestead or agricultural, that there be no change. Mike seconded. Gary abstained.
Camper at Two Creeks: Since they documented that they were being taxed for neighbor’s trailer, and that they do have current plates, Mike moved that the correct trailer/RV be assessed; Gary seconded. Glen abstained.
Paul asked why his property value went from $92,000 to $99,000? Kelly said there were six sales in Wilma Township, which forced a change in everyone’s value to remain in the 95%-105% range. We were at 88% so she increased everyone by 6%, and we’re now at 94.4%. If she values too low, the state moves in and does the assessments. Dean and Carol Dixon’s cabin had been valued at $161,000 and sold for $177,000. A sale down by Tamarack Lake had been valued at $74,000 and sold for $94,000 for 2 ½ acres. Scott Jamieson’s near the lake was valued at $43,400 and sold for $63,000. A sale in Tamarack River Preserve on River Cabin road also sold for above appraised value.
Gary moved to adjourn; Mike seconded. Meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
Paul Raymond, Clerk
Attested to: Glen Williamson, Chair