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Published June 03, 2009, 06:37 AM

Agriculture assessments raised by county leaders

The Stutsman County Commission heard a report on increases to property assessments for residential property in Jamestown and raised agriculture land assessments outside of the city during a meeting Tuesday.

By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun

The Stutsman County Commission heard a report on increases to property assessments for residential property in Jamestown and raised agriculture land assessments outside of the city during a meeting Tuesday.

The commission was meeting as the Stutsman County Board of Tax Equalization. The actions were part of the procedures used to establish the values of property as a basis for property taxes.

“The state standards are that the assessed value be between 95 and 100 percent of the actual sales,” said Noel Johnson, chief operating officer of the county and the director of tax equalization. “That is the standard for residential and commercial property. The standard for agriculture land is the average assessed value must be between 95 and 100 percent of the value determined by the state formula.”

Residential property in Jamestown was at 91.6 percent when compared to actual sales, said Darrell Wollan, city assessor.

“We raised the value on bi-level and split level homes by 4 percent and all other residential property by 6 percent,” he said, reporting on actions taken by the city during its equalization meeting.

Johnson said the formula used by the state to determine farm land value for taxation takes into account production, interest rates and costs of farm inputs. North Dakota State University determines a county-wide average assessment each year based on a formula that is set by the Legislature.

The value calculated by NDSU for Stutsman County is $311.67 per acre while the average of the valuations determined by the county was $289.44.

Johnson told the commission they needed to raise the assessed value of the agriculture by at least 3 percent but no more than 7 percent to fall within the state’s guidelines. He also recommended the commission make the increase 5 percent.

“The 5 percent increase to assessed value amounts to about $40 on a quarter of land,” he said. “The increase to residential property in Jamestown amounts to about $90 per home.”

Johnson said over the years the burden of property tax had shifted from agriculture to residential property.

“In the last 10 years residential property values have gone up 52 percent,” he said. “Commercial has about stayed the same and agriculture has gone up 24 percent. This has shifted more of the percentage of the total property taxes paid to the residential class of property.”

The information from the county board of equalization will now go onto the North Dakota Board of Tax Equalization for final approval before being used as the basis of the taxes calculated in December.

“We’re going to get a lot of calls from the people who expect values will have gone down instead of up,” Johnson said.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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