For the first time, Lincoln County properties are being reappraised.
Lincoln County director of equalization Karla Harkness said while small city additions and some acreages have been reappraised in the past, a comprehensive reappraisal has not been done before. Harkness’ office started reappraisals in Delapre Township in March and started in Tea in May. They finished those two areas before getting a start on Harrisburg before the end of the year.
If all goes as planned, the whole county should be completed by 2020.
Harkness said a reappraisal needed to be done due to the changes in property values in the past 10-15 years. Since Lincoln County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the state, Harkness was noticing inequality among property assessment.
“When I came into Lincoln County, I started to look at some of their statistical data and I could tell that it was very clear that some of our assessed values in comparison to our market values was well below state standards,” she said.
Harkness said Davison and Yankton counties are in the midst of conducting their own reappraisals.
She said counties are doing these reassessments to make things equal.
“Keep in mind that reappraisal will eliminate inequities that are created over time by changes in the real estate market, which we could clearly see through our statistics. My job is to ensure fairness and equity for all properties,” she said.
Harkness’ office sent out preliminary notices to property owners in January. Last week, they had a chance to contact her office with questions or concerns about their new assessments.
She said there has been a lot of confusion and mixed emotion.
“They’re scared because they don’t know what their taxes are going to do. I believe anger would be a good word. I think it’s a mixed emotion,” she said. “We’re trying to walk them through the process and educate them.”
Harkness said a lot of the questions have prompted her office to take a bit of different look at certain properties.
“We’re just looking at throwing out different statistical measures to make sure that we are not over market value,” she said. “That’s why we sent out the preliminary. We want people to call us and tell us where we’re right and where we’re wrong.”
State law requires the office of equalization to send out the legal assessment no later than March 1.
Harkness has notified the city council that they will likely have more appeals than they have ever seen. She offered assistance from her office for that meeting to help show the office of equalization’s process to arrive at the value. The appellant can also give their side and the board can make a good decision based on the two views.
Harkness and her office strives to make everything equal.
“State law requires us to be at full market value on properties. My job as director of equalization and everybody within this office is to create fair and equal values on all properties and to be at fair market value,” Harkness said. “I believe that we met that goal with the Tea and Delapre reappraisal. We’re fair, we’re equal and we’re within market. ... We treat everybody the same way.”