Guthrie County Reappraisal Program Planned

By Susan Thompson

In 2014, the Guthrie County Conference Board, which oversees the county assessor’s office, approved a reappraisal project of all residential properties at Lake Panorama. As part of that project, door-to-door inspections of all residential properties at Lake Panorama will begin around June 1 this year, and are expected to continue through August.

Nikki Carrick, Guthrie County Assessor, says the purpose of the reappraisal program is to equalize property assessments so taxpayers are responsible for paying only their fair share of the property tax burden.

“Periodic inspections and reappraisal of properties is necessary as all types of properties do not increase or decrease in value at the same rate,” Carrick says. “Some properties physically deteriorate faster than others, plus similar dwellings located in different areas of the county will differ greatly in value due to economic factors.”

“For several years, Lake Panorama sales have been higher than what we have as assessed values on those properties, and the sales ratios have been very low overall compared to the rest of the county,” Carrick says. “The Iowa Department of Revenue calls for assessed value to be within five percent of market value. At Lake Panorama, that ratio has been fluctuating between 77 to 80 percent, with the overall county ratio at 88 to 90 percent.”

Carrick says this reappraisal project should help get market values more in line with assessed values. “The lake is unique and without it, Guthrie County would not be what it is. This will help get values where they need to be, and closer to what people are paying for Lake Panorama properties,” she says.   

Representatives of Vanguard Appraisals, Inc., will be conducting the inspections at Lake Panorama. Carrick says Vanguard has done this type of work across the Midwest for many years. In 1999, the company was involved in a reappraisal project for all residences in the county, except for those at Lake Panorama. In 2013, Vanguard did complete Commercial Class reappraisal project for Guthrie County.

At Lake Panorama, data collectors with photo ID signed by the assessor will make interior and exterior inspections of all residential properties. They will be compiling information to be used to estimate the fair market value of each property.

Information to be collected includes type of construction, type of interior finish, physical condition of the property, age of structures and exterior measurements. A complete sales analysis, local construction costs and economic conditions also are considered. No estimate of value will be given at the time of inspection.

Lake Panorama property owners are asked to cooperate by allowing a complete inspection of their property and providing accurate information, so a fair market value can be determined.

Carrick says the Vanguard employees generally will work weekdays beginning at 8 a.m. and into the evening hours. If no one is home, additional attempts to gain information will be made. Some visits will be done on Saturdays to catch those who are only at the lake on weekends. Carrick says no notices will be left, workers simply will make repeat visits until they find someone home.

All law enforcement agencies, as well as the Guthrie County Assessor’s office, will know the areas where data collectors are working, and have the names and license plate numbers of those involved.

Carrick says once the physical inspection phase is complete this fall, all data will be reviewed and property value estimates made. The target date for completing this phase is December 31, with notices of final value estimates mailed to property owners sometime after January 1, 2018.

Carrick says these notices will be different from what is typically mailed each spring for valuation changes. A cover letter with a brief explanation of the reappraisal and valuation process will be included with the notice. Property owners with concerns or questions will have the opportunity to meet informally with a Vanguard representative, with Carrick present, to discuss their valuation.

The new assessed values for Lake Panorama residences will be effective January 1, 2018, for taxes payable in fiscal year 2019-2020. Property owners will receive their normal assessment notice by April 1, 2018. Details on filing a formal protest will be included on those assessment notices.

For the rest of Guthrie County, Carrick says staff from her office will begin to conduct similar inspections of other rural residential and agricultural dwellings in 2017. The next step in the reappraisal project is to inspect residences located in all towns within Guthrie County. She hopes that work can get underway in 2018, and have those new valuations in place for assessment years 2019 and 2020.

Property owners with questions about the reappraisal project can contact the Guthrie County Assessor’s office at 641-747-3319.