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State Mandates Lead to Increase in Property Value Reassessments

By Eugenia Jones
eugenia@highland.net

“It’s obviously not something I wanted to do or planned to do, but I’m bound by state law to do the job I’m elected to do. I’m trying to do my job as fair as I can,” McCreary County Property Valuation Administrator (PVA) Dwight Ross noted when asked about the increased number of property value reassessments in 2020.
According to Ross there has been an increased number of “change in assessment” notifications this year in comparison to last year as a result of reviews and mandates by the Department of Revenue. Ross said almost all of this year’s reassessments have already been mailed. Just over 1400 reassessments, including routine exemptions and status changes, have already been mailed in 2020.
“Every year there are some reassessments due to exemptions (e.g. homestead, disability) and status changes. However, by law, the PVA is to assess properties at fair market value of the property. When looking at sales transactions for our county, a number of properties sold for larger dollar amounts than those on the recorded assessments for the properties,” Ross explained. “That prompted a mandate from the Department of Revenue to increase assessments to reflect current market values for the county as a whole.”
Ross said normally the local PVA’s office conducts quad reviews for certain sections of the county; however, this time, most of the county was reviewed. Square footage, amount of land, location and other such factors are components in determining reassessment. Ross said some of this year’s reassessments have been significantly higher while others have not been nearly as much.
Ross noted most of the properties reassessed in 2020 had not been reassessed for many years-perhaps eight or ten years. These properties may have been physically inspected as required every four years but not fully reassessed. According to Ross the physical inspection is how some reassessments become apparent.
Despite talk on the street that real estate isn’t selling, Ross said he sees a lot of property being sold.
“Realtor sites don’t seem to reflect what is being sold between individuals,” Ross observed.
Ross did not agree with the state mandate and the way those numbers were calculated.
“I strongly disagreed with the mandate and the way those numbers were calculated,” Ross declared. “I basically argued with them for two weeks and wasn’t able to get the mandate reduced. Finally I had to make a decision to raise assessments county-wide rather than in just one or two areas. Otherwise, there would be no certification of our tax rolls and bills couldn’t be produced.”
“The state offered to come down and do it,” Ross declared. “I knew it would be better for everyone to do it in house.”
Although the down side of reassessment can be higher property tax bills, Ross said there are a couple of positive aspects. First, reassessment can provide an accurate reference point for insurance, etc. in the event of a natural disaster. When a tornado devastated West Liberty, KY, PVA records were the only remaining documentation available to assist many folks whose homes were devastated by the destructive wind. Secondly, reassessment helps get county receipts up to date benefiting schools county government, health departments, and more.
Those who receive and disagree with a reassessment notice are reminded there is an appeal process.

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