Land appraisal work finished

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This year’s land value reappraisal has been completed and will soon be submitted, but Highland County Auditor Alex Butler doesn’t know for sure when the values will be formally released by the state.

Butler said that a full reappraisal of every parcel in the county is required by Ohio Revised Code every six years, with another update required in the three-year period between that. Butler said this year’s reappraisal is the six-year one. He said in these years, they aren’t looking at just sales data but also cost tables, the latter of which is what it would cost to build a similar house, barn, structure or whatever they are appraising at the time.

In addition, the county had people visit each parcel in the county, which included looking at the imagery of they already had and then having appraisers manually look or check them out.

Butler said “a lot of” the larger counties have in-house appraisal departments, but rural ones like Highland County contract out for not only their appraisals but also updates on new construction and addition/destruction to properties.

Butler said that when they visit properties, they try to be as “non-invasive” as possible, but if there’s a long driveway, in order to get a realistic assessment, they are more noticeable. He said they never go inside homes, barns, garages or any building.

Butler noted that county auditors don’t raise or set taxes. They are only tasked with appraising the properties and updating their value. He said the value update factors into the tax bill’s equation though.

Butler said that in figuring out the new land value, they use the old value as a kind of reference point, but they also have to submit the new one to the Ohio Department of Taxation in Columbus, which will ultimately approve the values. He said it isn’t solely the opinion of the county auditor or the appraisal staff, but they also know where the department would like to see increases, saying it’s not just “subjective or some bureaucrat’s opinion.”

Butler said the counties that have had their reappraisals in the last one to three years have all seen around a 30 to 40 percent increase in land values countywide.

He said the county will notify people their “tentative value” is available for review, and after that there will be a period of time where the public can come in and have an informal hearing/review of their value. He said appraisers would be available to go over in detail how the value was determined, and if there’s a disagreement or they’d like to contest the value, that’s when that can happen.

For appraisals that people might think are incorrect, Butler said when the county sends out its tax bills it also attaches a slip to ask if anything has been changed in the home that would impact the land value.

“So, we heavily rely on the public to communicate to us, and I would encourage, the readers, to check our website and see how we’re carrying their property and if there’s something that’s incorrect or that they disagree with to definitely reach out to us and let us know,” Butler said.

He also detailed the reasoning behind taxes going up and how the land value impacts that.

He said there are two different ways the tax rate is affected, that being through inside millage and outside millage. He said outside millage is voted levies like an additional operating levy for a school district or fire department levy, among others. He said that as the land value increases, the rate of taxation actually decreases.

He said inside millage is where the taxes will increase as land value goes up. Butler said this is a fixed millage rate that certain political subdivisions, like counties or schools, are guaranteed. He said that as values go up, the tax rate stays the same and revenue goes up.

Butler said that in Highland County there are 53 unique taxing districts and that if people look at the first two digits in their parcel number, that’s their taxing district.

He pointed toward programs like the Homestead Exemption Program and the Ohio Disabled Veterans Exemption Program as things people should look into.

One other aspect Butler said would be impacted by what will likely be land value increases is the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV). He said it is a state program that reduces the value, which would translate into savings in taxes. He said those rates are updated and determined by the state.

“What counties have been experiencing the last year to three is less of a CAUV savings,” he said. “So, I anticipate that happening too.”

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

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