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Crow Wing County: Postcards notify residents of impending assessor visit

Crow Wing County tried something new when it came to assessing the value of properties--warning property owners first. Gary Griffin, land services supervisor, told the county board at its recent committee of the whole meeting the decision to send...

Crow Wing County tried something new when it came to assessing the value of properties-warning property owners first.

Gary Griffin, land services supervisor, told the county board at its recent committee of the whole meeting the decision to send out notification postcards reflected customer comments. A survey of customers showed a high satisfaction rate-95 percent-with the performance of assessors, but many expressed a desire for prior notification.
"Some said, 'It's kind of weird that you just pop up and I didn't know you were coming,'" Griffin said.

To address that concern, those in land services devised the postcards, which were sent out to 3,500 property owners in the city of Brainerd scheduled for assessments this year. Griffin was worried they would receive 3,000 responses back from people telling his team not to show up. Property owners have a right to refuse on-site assessment, in which case assessment is done from aerial photography and other means. Property owners do lose the ability to appeal valuation decisions if they refuse access, however.

"That's really not going to improve the assessment," Griffin said. "We make that property assessment better every time we go out of this office."

After the notifications were sent, 65 of the 3,500 recipients called to ask assessors not come. Secondary follow-up resulted in just seven refusals.

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State statute requires each county to review properties annually to verify the accuracy and completeness of assessment records used to determine property taxes. This year, property assessors will view about 8,200 parcels countywide.

Rules govern how properties are classified and valued, based on physical characteristics, use of the property and sales of comparable properties during a prescribed period. Only "arms-length" transactions may be used for comparable sales, which precludes the use of foreclosure sales in determining values.

In addition, Minnesota law requires assessed values to fall within a statistical range of 90 percent to 105 percent of market value. If the assessment is outside this range, the state requires property values to be raised or lowered accordingly.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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