Misconceptions about property assessments

Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011

After reading the letter "The assessment's too darn high" in the April 26th edition of the Clarion, I felt compelled to write a response in order to correct some apparent misconceptions it contained.

In that letter, Ms. Armstrong wrote that she was informed that it was impossible for only six appraisers in the assessing department to visit and assess the over 60,000 properties in the borough annually, and she questioned why her property was revalued every year.

It is true that there are only six real estate appraisers in the department, along with two appraiser technicians, and they are able to visit only a portion of the properties within the borough in any given year.

However, the department does revalue all residential property every year. We do this by analyzing all known sales within the borough over the past year, comparing the sales prices with assessed values, and factoring those values by area and type to bring them into line with the sales. There are no "arbitrary increases that have nothing to do with market value," as alleged.

Ms. Armstrong suggested that we are in a "declining real estate market." In fact, we have not seen a decline in sales prices overall. Some of our factor models have shown slight decreases, but residential real estate markets across the borough have been very stable in recent years, and many areas have experienced increases in market value.

As to Ms. Armstrong's description of a property with a new two-car garage and a second story addition with no corresponding increase in assessed value, the assessing department makes all reasonable efforts to discover and value all new improvements, but we do occasionally find properties with improvements that have escaped assessment. In these instances, we place the escaped value on a supplemental roll and the escaped taxes are billed with interest.

Borough code provides that a person receiving an assessment notice must advise the assessor of errors or omissions in the assessment.

Tom Anderson; Director of Assessing, Kenai Peninsula Borough

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