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Board of Appeal/Equalization, April 16, 2008

WILMA TOWNSHIP BOARD OF APPEAL/EQUALIZATION
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2008

Chairman Gary Vink called the meeting to order at 10: a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Also present were County Assessor Mike Sheehy, Wilma Township Assessor Bob Brewster, Supervisors Michael McCullen and Glenford Williamson, Clerk Paul Raymond, and Joe Vink, Eldon and Marg Schmedeke, Bruce and Donna Filler, Dave and Judy Swanson, Patrice Winfield, and Scott Quady.

Joe Vink asked for the floor to ask a question of Mike Sheehy: “What would happen if the Board lowered everyone’s taxes to what they were a year ago?” Mike said the Board has no authority over taxes, but can lower property values, but the overall taxes would remain the same. Joe said that taxpayers have lost control of their government and we have to take back the power.

Paul read the record of last years Board of Appeal/Equalization. Mike moved to approve the record; Gary seconded. Mike Sheehy confirmed that there was a quorum present and that both Gary and Glen are certified as having taken supervisor assessment training.

Mike McCullen said he has heard from outraged taxpayers who are fed up with our valuation. He said our values are way too high. There are no sales in our township because prices are set so high by realtors.

Mike Sheehy said valuations are sometimes higher than what properties sell for, sometimes less. They compare assessments to sale prices of what properties actually sell for. The middle rate is the median ratio. There were 267 sales, 1/3 less than the year before, with an average of 96.8% of market value. The base year for 2008 assessments and 2009 taxes is October 1, 2006, to September 30, 2007, so there is a lag in a time of decreasing values that won’t be reflected for a couple of years. Mike said that of 57 sales in Pine County for all land from 30 to 730 acres, only three sales were for less than $1,000 an acre, even in the declining market. Ten years ago there were many sales for $200-250 an acre. Mike said that taxes are based on local jurisdictions, such as townships and school districts. Costs for things like fuel have gone up, and towns lost local government aid that used to alleviate the tax burden.

Bob Brewster said that being fair and comparable is foremost on his mind in doing assessments. He said that evaluations are going down in Wilma township for most taxpayers. The site amenity for the first acre went down from $18,500 to $18,000. Bob encourages taxpayers to call him (320/242-3236).

First up were Bruce and Donna Filler, Parcel 32.0095. They said the appraisal is higher than the real value for their manufactured home. Their home on 8 acres is valued at $157,000, and they feel it’s closer to $100,000. Bob said their assessed values actually decreased this year, and that he could take another look at the part of their land that is swamp. Wasteland is valued at $650/acre and high ground is $1,500. Filler’s home was evaluated as a modular home, not a manufactured home, and there is a difference. Stick-built homes are $96/square foot; modular homes $70/ square foot; manufactured homes $60/square foot; and mobile homes $40/square foot.

Second, Patrice Winfield, Parcel 32.0138. She said her valuation went up and she believes it is being appraised at 100% complete. Bob said it is still rated 95% complete. She asked why her land valuation went up from $102,000 to $109,500 and her building from $144,100 to $146,400. Her overall assessment rose from $247,000 to $255,900. Bob said she has 825 feet of river front land, appraised as waterfront property, 10.25 acres of high ground, 8 acres limited access, across the river. The site amenity for riverfront property went up from $27,000 for the first acre to $35,000, an increase of $8,000.

Next, Dave and Judy Swanson, Parcel 32.0028, 42.4 acres. Bob said it went down from $80,400 to $78,100, and their overall assessment went down from $158,100 to $155,200. The limited market value of all properties has been kept artificially low for many years by the state legislature, but this will expire so the limited and estimated market values will be the same, and the limited market values went way up for 2009.

Eldon and Marjorie Schmedeke, Parcels 32.0104, 0106, 0008, 0114, and 0112. He asked if any parcels in Wilma sold for over $2,000 an acre. He said these five parcels are all valued at over $2,000 an acre. Bob said three of the parcels went down in value, but 0008 has McDermott Creek running through it. Eldon said that the taxable market values are going up and this scares him. People don’t seem willing to speak up and we are going to lose our land. Bob said that by law they must set values at 90 to 105% of what it would sell at an open transaction.

Joe asked why river frontage keeps going up while DNR restrictions on use of that land keep increasing. He asked how you could remove wetlands from tax rolls. Mike explained that in southern Minnesota farmers who had wetlands that could be feasibly drained could have them removed from the tax rolls since they couldn’t farm the land.

Next, Scott Quady, Parcel 32.00160. He has 2.5 acres and a hunting shack, and he had a jump from $14,200 to $26,900, while he has made no improvements. Bob said he valued the site amenities as a full site, with a well and septic. Scott said he only has electricity. Bob said this would drop it $8,000, to $18,900.

Glen Williamson had a question about his high land vs. swampland. Because he is on the board, his questions need to go to the county board. Gary moved that Glen’s case be kept open and forwarded to the county board for action. Mike seconded.

BOARD ACTIONS:

Bruce and Donna Filler: Gary moved to change the classification of their home from modular to manufactured, and that the assessment change be made by the county assessor. Mike seconded.

Patrice Winfield: Mike moved to make no change but to have Bob re-evaluate Patrice’s property and land and forward his recommendation to the board. Glen seconded.

Dave and Judy Swanson: Glen moved to make no change; Mike seconded.

Eldon and Marg Schmedeke: Seven parcels went down and one went up due to river frontage. Glen moved that Bob review the 7 parcels and see if they are fairly assessed as far as high vs. low land. Mike seconded.

Scott Quady: Glen said this is the clearest one as it was improperly assessed for site amenities, and he moved that it be assessed as half a site; Mike seconded.

Mike had two letters. One trailer at Two Creeks Campground had no license so was assessed as private property. Mike moved to remove the assessment as private property as it has been licensed and has current registration. Gary seconded.

Second letter, Gordon and Delores Anderson, Parcel 32.0195, next to Randy Michel’s old place. They felt they were under-assessed. They have a 20 x 30′ cabin with a deck and porch. Mike moved to have Bob assess this cabin and to forward his recommendation for adjustments to the county board; Glen seconded. Glen said the Andersons deserve a commendation from the board for coming forward to have their assessment corrected.

Glen moved to adjourn; Gary seconded. Meeting adjourned at 1 p.m.

Paul Raymond, Clerk