The Assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties; however, the primary duty and responsibility is to cause to be assessed all real property within his/her jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law. This would include residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural classes of property. Real property is revalued every two years. The effective date of the assessment is January First of the current year. The assessor determines a full or partial value of new construction, or improvements depending upon the state of completion as of January First.
General Information About the Assessor
Assessors are appointed to their position by a Conference Board consisting of the members of the Board of Supervisors, the Mayors of all incorporated cities and a member from each school district within the jurisdiction. A city with a population of ten thousand or more may elect to have their own assessor. Assessors are required, by statute, to pass a state examination and complete a Continuing Education Program consisting of 150 hours of formal classroom instruction with 90 hours tested and a passing grade of 70% attained. The latter requirement must be met in order for the assessor to be reappointed to the position every six years. The Deputy Assessor also must pass a state examination as well as successfully complete 90 hours of classroom instruction of which at least 60 hours are tested. The Conference Board approves the assessor’s budget and after a public hearing acts on adoption of same. The assessor is limited, by statute, depending upon the value of the jurisdiction, to a levy limitation for his budget.
The Assessor’s responsibility is to estimate the value of properties. This is just a part of the taxation process.
The Assessor does not:
- Determine the tax rate
- Calculate taxes
- Collect taxes
Taxing jurisdictions such as schools, cities, and townships, adopt budgets after public hearings. This determines the tax levy which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted. The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value of your property compared to the total value of the taxing district in which your property is located.
The Assessor does not set policy for the Board of Review.
What is Market Value?
Market value is defined as the most probable price a property would bring in an open market with a willing buyer/willing seller. It is also known as an “arms length sale”. To be considered market value, the following conditions would apply:
- Buyer and seller are both motivated
- Both parties are well informed and are acting in their own best interest
- A reasonable exposure time in the market is allowed
- The price should represent the normal consideration for the property sold and be unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.
Estimating Market Value
The Assessor generally uses three approaches to estimate the market value of your property.
- Market Approach is to find properties that have recently sold that are similar to yours.
If there are local conditions that are peculiar to your property, they are taken into consideration. Sales ratio studies are also used to determine the general level of assessment in order to adjust for local conditions. This is the method usually considered the most important in determining the value of residential properties.
- Cost Approach is an estimate of how much it would cost, at current labor and material prices, to replace your property with one similar to it. Appropriate depreciation and obsolescence amounts would be deducted from the replacement value if the improvement is not new.
- Income Approach is used if your property produces income such as an apartment or office building. What would another investor be willing to pay for a property to gain its income? In other words, your property could be valued according to its ability to produce income under prudent management. Of the three approaches, the income approach is the most complicated because of the research and analysis necessary for an accurate estimate of value. A thorough knowledge of national and local financial conditions and any developmental trends in the area of the subject property being appraised is required when using this method because the final estimate of value can be seriously affected by inaccurate information.
What is the Board of Review?
The Board of Review members are appointed by the Conference Board and may have three or five members. As per state statute, one member must be a farmer, one a licensed realtor and one who has knowledge in the building or construction field. This is an independent board to which property owners may appeal if they feel their assessment is excessive or inequitable. The Board of Review has broad powers including the right to increase or decrease any assessment. If a property owner is not satisfied with the Board’s decision, they can file an appeal with the Property Assessment Appeal Board or in district court. Board of Review Assessment Appeal Forms & Instruction
Tax Levies & Assessed Values
Always use the values from the Assessor’s property record cards or the assessment notice when comparing your value with other properties. Do not use the values listed on the tax statement.
There are many different taxing districts in our county, each with a different levy. Each year, a levy is determined by the County Auditor that will yield enough money to fund the budgets that pay for our schools, police and fire protection, road maintenance and other services.
The tax levy is applied to each $1000 of taxable value of a property. The Assessor has determined the assessed value and it is the value on your assessment roll. The taxable value is determined by the Auditor after applying the state ordered “rollback” percentages to the various classes of property as well as the deduction of any applicable exemptions or credits. The taxable value is the value indicated on the tax statement.
Each year, when the total value increase statewide exceeds four percent for each class of property, the Director of the Iowa Department of Revenue determines the “rollback” percentage of the actual value for each class of property. After the Director determines and certifies the “rollback” percentage to the County Auditor, the percentage is applied to all properties in each class affected throughout the state. The rollback percentages are the same for all jurisdictions within the entire state and can change each year.
The assessed value of the individual parcels of property that the Assessor determines, may increase more than four percent within a jurisdiction. With the exception of agricultural dwellings, agricultural land and out buildings are assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five year crop average and capitalized at a rate set by the Legislature. Currently the rate is seven (7) percent.
When necessary, in odd-numbered years, the Director of the Iowa Department of Revenue issues tentative equalization orders on approximately August 15th. On October 1st, final orders are sent to the County Auditor who must then apply them to the affected classes of property.
If you have questions regarding your TAXES, you must contact the Treasurer’s Office.