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State finds Hubbard County property value assessments are compliant

Due to the large number of appeals – at least 75 – the Hubbard County Board of Equalization scheduled four hearing dates, beginning with Monday, June 13 and continuing through Thursday, June 16.

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The Hubbard County Board room was packed with property owners appealing their 2022 valuation or classification. County Board of Equalization hearings began on Monday.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise
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The Hubbard County Board of Equalization began hearing appeals of 2022 property value assessments this week.

Due to the large number of appeals – at least 75 – county commissioners scheduled four hearing dates, beginning with Monday, June 13 and continuing through Thursday, June 16.

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell said he anticipated that final staff recommendations and board decisions will be made at the county board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, June 21.

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Hubbard County Assessor Jamie Freeman speaks to the crowd at the Monday, June 13 hearing.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

County compliant in all property types

County Assessor Jamie Freeman reminded the packed room that Minnesota Statute dictates that all property be valued at a market value.

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“We run a sales ratio study every year. It’s a 12-month study period. The values on your 2022 valuation notice are reflective of sales based from October 2020 through September 2021,” she explained. “The assessor’s estimated market value is divided by the sale price, and that’s how the sales ratio is established.”

“In very basic terms,” she continued, “when property is selling up here and our estimated market values are down here, we have to raise them in between 90 and 105 percent of what the property is selling for.”

Hubbard County experienced an “appreciating market,” with unprecedented gains in property sales. Earlier this spring, Freeman reported that most properties saw “bidding wars” and sold for their listing price or higher.

On Monday, Freeman said, “It’s probably the strongest market I’ve ever seen in my career as an assessor.”

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Courtesy of Hubbard County Assessor's Department

Assistant county assessor Maria Shepherd explained that the bulk of sales were residential/seasonal properties. During this study period, there were 443 qualifying sales in this category.

On average, homes were selling 30% or higher than their estimated market values, she continued.

Because the median sales ratio, for both on- and off-water properties, was at 70.5%, Shepherd said the county assessor’s department implemented a countywide 25% building rate increase per square foot on all residential structures.

They also looked at the square footage of homes that were selling.

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“Anything that was 1,100 square feet or less, those median ratios were in the 50% (range), which told me those needed even a higher increase than others,” Shepherd explained.

In order to be compliant with the state, these homes that are 1,100 square feet or less were assessed an additional 25% building rate increase per square foot.

Each city or township district had market rate increases as well, she said.

Shepherd reported that Hubbard County did not receive any state orders, meaning they are in compliance with every property type and taxing district.

Freeman concluded by saying, “I know taxes are on everybody’s mind. But your property taxes should not increase at the same rate the values are increasing.”

Tax rates are determined by local taxing authorities, such as the county, city, school districts, etc.

“If your taxes go up by more than 12%,” Freeman advised home owners to consider filing for Minnesota’s special property tax refund.

Based on facts

Board chair Ted Van Kempen reminded appellants that “appeals must be based on facts.”

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Property owners must present supporting evidence that the valuation is incorrect – such as a recent property appraisal, real estate listings of similar properties or photos of the property’s current condition.

The board of equalization’s 333-page agenda, which lists the appeals, any supporting documentation and both the local assessor’s and county assessor’s recommendations, can be found at https://hubbardcounty.civicweb.net/document/16823/ . It does not contain any paperwork that was hand-delivered to the board at the hearings.

Spider Lake appeals

Tom Creighton, representing himself and 71 other Spider Lake properties, was among the first to appeal to the county board.

He argued that the average 40% increase in lakeshore front foot value on Spider Lake is “unfair, illogical and does not afford us equal protection under the law.”

Creighton said other lakes in Mantrap Township only saw an average 17% increase. He requested that Spider Lake’s per foot value drop to a 20% increase.

The county assessor’s department noted that the Mantrap Township Local Board of Appeal and Equalization (LBAE) approved a blanket change to reduce the lakefront foot value increase from 40% to 20%; however, blanket appeals are not allowed at a local board level.

Both the local and county assessor recommend no changes.

County staff also enclosed a letter from the Minnesota Department of Revenue stating that the Mantrap Township LBAE “lowered the estimated market values in excess of their statutory limitation of one percent;” therefore, “all actions of the Mantrap Township LBAE are null and void.”

County staff brought some of those appeals forward to the county board to recommend changes.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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