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LETTERS: Appraiser responds to letters

School supporters appreciated

To the editor:

On behalf of the Marion High School junior class, we want to thank all of the families and friends that supported our fundraising effort by purchasing magazine subscriptions.

The money earned will be put toward the MHS Junior-Senior Prom. The fundraiser was a success, thanks to the many generous supporters of our school.

Judy Versch and Lori Kirkpatrick
MHS Junior Class Sponsors

Appraiser responds to letters

(Editor’s Note: This letter exceeds the maximum number of words allowed in a Letter to the Editor because the county appraiser is responding to previous letters from taxpayers.)

Letter to Editor:

It is my opinion that the public needs to be informed of the full record regarding the few letters to the editor that have been published about their experiences with the appraiser’s office.

In reviewing the files, I will let the facts speak for themselves, which is a part of county records. These records are open to the public and can be viewed during regular office business hours.

Don and Twylah Nightengale (letter to the editor, Sept. 16).

The Nightingales came in for a hearing in 2007. The county had re-inspected the property during 2006 as mandated by state law. The county had several data characteristics listed incorrectly. Central heat and air conditioning were not listed, the property had one additional bedroom more than what the county records reflected, and the bathroom count was not correctly listed.

These all are contributors to value. Furthermore, the property owners had the property listed on the market in the mid-$50,000 range. According to the hearing form filled out by them at the time of the hearing, their opinion of value was in the range of $35,000 to $40,000. The county did correct the age of the property. Records will also show that the property owners had a hearing in 2003 and the age of the property was wrong then and every year since.

Gary Grentz (letter to the editor Sept. 16)

The county re-listed the property in 2008 and made several corrections to the property’s characteristics. Central heat and air conditioning were not listed and several outbuildings, built in 1999, were not listed on the appraisal records until 2008.

Carl and Juanita Stovall (letter to the editor, Sept. 16)

The Stovalls came in for a hearing in 2008. They had the hearing with an employee of the office and that employee conducted a field inspection and made several data corrections to the property’s characteristics. The roof material, floor covering, and foundation type were wrong. Also, the physical condition of the property was adjusted to take in consideration issues addressed by the property owner.

We are under a statutory deadline to hold all hearings and render decisions so an appraisal roll can be certified to the county clerk. So, according to 79-1471, the county appraiser is to appoint and dismiss any assistants necessary in performing the duties of the office.

The county appraiser does not have time to hold all of the hearings, nor is it typical in other counties for the county appraiser to hold all hearings. Furthermore, part of the office procedure is to inform property owners that if they are not satisfied with the results of the hearing with the county, they can appeal to the next level. Hearing results are sent to property owners and give instructions on how to appeal to the next level.

The Stovalls never followed up with a phone call directly to me expressing the concerns that they had stated in the letter to the editor.

Norma Kline (letter to the editor, Sept. 23)

The Klines have had hearings with this office in 2007 and 2009, and have received reductions each time. Mr. Kline is the only one who attended the hearings at the county level; Mrs. Kline did not attend. For the record, Mrs. Kline lost her appeal at small claims. Furthermore, the hearing officer’s decision stated in part, “The county presented documentation to support its increase in value and adopted a 2009 value estimate that is lower than all of the value indicators generated by the computer assisted mass appraisal system.”

This is opposite of what she stated my orders to employees were to “get the values up.” First, that would be job suicide, especially if I could not support it to the state that oversees the analysis performed by the office.

Second, what benefit would I gain from increasing values? As far as insinuating that the property owner was being dishonest about their property characteristics was untrue. I was informed by someone in the public that Mr. Kline has an office in the basement of his house and I just informed the hearing officer that this data error was not considered in the valuation conclusion.

As far as employee turnover, I will let county employment records speak for themselves about prior office turnover; and furthermore, I have had several former employees return to work for another and me who applied to return to work.

Jerry Seibert (letter to the editor, Sept. 16)

The county re-listed the property in 2008 as mandated by state law. It was discovered that some living area was listed as garage, which, when corrected, increased his total square footage living area. In turn, it increased the value of his residence. Mr. Seibert questioned the square footage numbers but would not allow us to re-visit the property to verify.

Also, it was discovered that the home, built in 1900, that was being used as a farm operation office, was not listed on the appraisal roll. When Mr. Seibert came in for his hearing, it was suggested that he get in contact with planning and zoning administrator Bobbi Strait to have her do a habitability report and based on her findings we could possibly change the old house to a shed. Bobbi Strait conducted an inspection and the house was changed to a shed in the records. Mr. Seibert was notified of a reduction in value.

In closing, I would like to state for the record, I did not start employment with the county until September 2005 and current staff and I have since worked diligently to get data errors corrected. Staff has been trained when they visit a property that they are to treat the property data collection process as if they were data collecting their own property.

Furthermore, if data errors are found during the hearing process I do not raise the property owners’ value because they have exercised their right to have a hearing about their valuation. Any corrections that increase values are reflected in the following year’s valuation process.

If Mr. Smith is paying taxes for his house with correct property characteristics and on all buildings that he owns, then it is only right that Mr. Jones does as well. My main objective in carrying out the duties of the appraiser’s office is that everyone is treated fairly and equitably.

I have an open door policy and am willing to visit with anyone about his or her property and property valuation.

Cindy Magill, R.M.A.
Marion County Appraiser

Last modified Oct. 1, 2009

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