GLASGOW – Notices about changes in property assessments – more than usual – were mailed in May, and a period to appeal those assessments immediately followed.
Now that the tax bills based on those assessments have been distributed, however, the impact of those new assessments is hitting home, even though almost all the actual tax rates were the same or lower than last year.
Barren County Property Valuation Administrator Kim Shipley said the higher tax bills that are due to higher assessments are “the bad side of a good economy.”
When the economy is doing better, it's a seller's market, meaning sale prices tend to be higher, because demand is higher, said Shipley, who also has more than 20 years' experience as a real estate agent.
“The Realtors association is expecting it to level off in the next couple of years,” she said, “but the markets are still very strong. Our region in southcentral Kentucky, northern Tennessee, is very, very strong.”
Sale prices of other properties in the vicinity is one of several factors considered in the assessment process, as well as age of the house, construction material, square footage and numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, based on initial construction.
By law, Shipley said, assessments are supposed to be at 100 percent value, although a bit of a margin of error is allowed.
“We look and measure and take pictures externally,” she said, “so we try to do the best we can with what we have.”
If a major renovation – or a major problem – has occurred on the inside of a home that would affect the value, the PVA office has no way of knowing that.
Assessments must be evaluated every four years on each property, and those are done on a rotational basis here. This year, the residential properties in and some immediately in the vicinity of Glasgow city limits were assessed. The southern and northern portions of the county are done separately in two other years and commercial properties are done the fourth year. That said, certain things can prompt an assessment on a different year, such as when new construction has occurred to add a room or building to a property or if it the property was listed for sale at a significantly higher price than its most recent assessment.
After the notices were mailed in the spring, several people did call or go into the office to question their assessments, and some adjustments were made, but only in one case was the value actually appealed after that discussion when no change was made, she said. The appeal also did not bring a change to the assessment in that case, she said.
“We try to do what's best for the taxpayer and still stay within state law,” Shipley said. “It's always better to come and ask questions.”
Without a major extenuating circumstance, changes in assessments cannot occur, though, once the books are closed in June.
“That's what that time is for in the spring,” she said.
In June, the assessment information is sent to the state and it's what the taxing entities – local governments, schools and special districts like for the library or ambulance service, eight total in Barren County – then use as a basis for what the anticipated revenue would be with the current tax rate or a compensating rate – one that would produce roughly the same amount of revenue as the previous year based on current assessments – or certain other rates.
So, people can go in to discuss the assessment at other times of the year afterward, but any adjustments would not affect their tax bills for the current year.