2013-04-18 / Top News

Linton Council holds tax equalization meeting

The Linton City Council held its annual tax equalization meeting on Tuesday, April 9.

Present at the meeting were Council President Dan Imdieke, who chaired the meeting, along with Aldermen Gary Hulm, Perry Kimble and Dennis Morris; Linton CityAssessor Shawna Paul, and Emmons County Tax Director Ardella Deis. Linton Mayor Tim Volk, and Alderwomen Shelly Hauge and Tammi Sannes were not present at the meeting.

The council reviewed a list of property owners who are eligible for senior or veteran tax credits, and Alderman Kimble made a motion to accept tax credits for 37 seniors, and five veterans. Alderman Morris seconded the motion, and it carried, 3-0.

The council then reviewed the projected changes in property values within the City of Linton. During the January 2013 regular meeting, the council directed Assessor Shawna Paul to reassess the properties (land only) within the City of Linton, and make the properties uniform by evening out the cost per square foot on commercial and residential properties.

Paul said that all of the properties have been reassessed, and the rate is $1 per square foot for commercial and 50 cents per square foot for residential. On properties located in a flood way or flood plain, the rate goes down 10 percent to 90 cents for commercial and 45 cents for residential. Paul said properties on outlying areas of the City were assessed at these rates for the first 20,000 square feet, and then 10 percent of that rate for the remaining property.

Paul said the total increase of property value within the City of Linton is about $950,000, and total property taxes (land only) will increase by $13,400, including $5,000 on residential property, and $8.400 on commercial property. The figures are based on the 2011 mill levy.

The City is in the process of reassessing total values (land and structures) for every property within the tax district, and those figures are included in the 2013 assessment. Paul said the process is scheduled to take four years, so only a quarter of the reassessments have been completed. Paul added that any property owner who obtained a building permit in the past year have also had their property reassessed, and some property owners protested any increase on their overall property values as being unfair.

The argument was that only a portion of the property owners will see an increase in values over the full four years of the reassessment process, while others will not see an increase until the final year. It was suggested that the City wait until the reassessment process is completed to change the values of the properties all at one time.

Alderman Kimble explained that the council looked into hiring an outside firm to reassess all of the properties in one year, but he said the cost of the project exceeded $100,000, and that would not be feasible for the City to undertake, since it has its own assessor. Kimble added that most properties within the City have not been assessed since 1985, which means some properties have been overvalued, while others have been undervalued for almost 30 years.

“There were inequities in the past, so there are going to be inequitites now,” Kimble said. “Our (City) goal is get everyone on a level playing field,and there are going to be bumps along the way until we accomplish that.”

Deis said there are deadlines for tax valuation with the State, and the City can only get so many properties reassessed in a year, before it has to go on to the next year. She said each county has to meet at least 95 percent of its total valuation, and if the City waited four years to add all of the properties to the tax roll, Linton would not meet that criteria.

After further reviewing the assessments,Alderman Hulm made a motion to accept the increases and decreases in the total property value.Alderman Morris seconded the motion, and it carried, 3-0.

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