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CASS COUNTY BOARD: Property value continues its decline

 BACKUS — Cass County’s total property value continued to decline in the last year despite the fact more homes sold for slightly higher prices than a year ago, Assessor Mark Peterson told the county board Tuesday.

 This is because people continue to pay less in land and commercial property sales, he said.

 The total county value has dropped from $7,084,000,000 in the 2008 assessment for taxes payable in 2009 to $6,959,400,000 in the 2009 assessment for taxes payable in 2010 to $6,705,300,00 in the 2010 assessment for taxes payable in 2011 to $6,498,500,000 in the assessment this year for taxes payable next year. That is successive drops of 1.8 percent, 3.7 percent and 3.4 percent.

Peterson’s view that land values in particular have been hard hit in the decline is borne out by comparison figures for each township and city. The most significant drops of 10 to 14 percent per township can be seen in the farming townships southwest of Pine River.

There was a 15.2 percent 2010 valuation drop in Wabedo Township by Longville, the largest difference of any township. Most cities lost about 2 percent valuation. Backus, Cass Lake and Walker were the only cities to see increases. Those rises were 3 percent or less.

 There were 657 arms-length property sales in Cass County in 2010, Peterson reported, up 15 percent from the 570 properties sold in 2009. The average residential sale price rose from $220,280 to $238,259.

 However, there also were 137 bank sales of properties in 2010. There were 140 foreclosures in 2008, 127 in 2009 and 167 in 2010.

 With the county’s growth down, according to census figures, from around 24 percent a decade ago to only about 1 percent between 2000 and 2010, new construction here no longer can offset any decline in existing property values.

 The $123,400,000 value of new construction built in 2007 has declined to only $39,600,000 worth built in 2010, Peterson reported.

 So far in 2011, it appears from Environmental Services Director John Ringle’s report on new zoning permits issued that new construction continues to be slow. He said the department issued 111 land use zoning permits for new buildings and septic systems in the first quarter this year, compared with 113 in 2010.

The Environmental Services Department issued 10 variances this first quarter, compared with 20 in 2010; one conditional use, compared with three in 2010; 14 shoreland alteration permits, compared with 15 in 2010; one minor subdivision this year compared with three in 2010; and processed no new plats.

Ringle noted the first quarter of any year usually represents the lowest quarter for new permit applications. With extensive snow and cold this winter, new construction could improve this summer as the weather improves.