Taxes prove to be a bumpy ride
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
Allison Jensen, Custer County’s Director of Equalization, has much to say about property taxes. For the past five years she has served in this capacity, locating, assessing and valuing properties — including land and structures on the property — in Custer County. Not only is it a pretty thankless job, but a difficult one, too, as county properties differ so widely.
“Custer County is very unique and, by state statute, we have to be market value. So what you can sell your property for on the open market is what valuations should be.”
Jensen explained there are no “cookie cutter” neighbors in Custer aside from the townhomes in the Boot Hill subdivision. Every property is different. So in order to complete accurate assessments, she and her crew have to begin with the replacement costs of structures. Much of the time assessments are done, however, property owners are not at home, so they have to employ some guesswork in their assessments.
That’s one of the reasons it’s important for landowners to closely review their property assessments when they come in the mail, she said. Once its status moves from assessment to tax bill, it’s much harder to make adjustments, as property owners must go through the appeal process at that time.
After assessments are completed, the state then analyzes them and determines — based on replacement costs for the structures and the market — whether Jensen and her staff are on target.
While most folks worry about their taxes going up, there’s also devaluation to consider. Dave Green, Custer County’s planning director for the past seven and a half years, says his job — as far as property taxes are concerned — is to ensure new subdivisions and developments are not devaluing properties.
Too many parcels in a development can flood the market, he said, and that can result in a devaluation if those parcels don’t sell right away. Then you’ve got a subdivision with empty lots and that’s not necessarily what you want, either, even if it means lower taxes.
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