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Divide County tax equalization meeting is Tuesday, June 2

Posted 5/26/15 (Tue)

By John D. Taylor
A decision on how the county will handle the Crosby City Council’s rejection of assessed property values for the third year in a row could come at a meeting June 2.
 The Divide County Board of Equalization will meet Tuesday  at 10 a.m., in the Commissioner’s Room at the Divide County Courthouse.
Along with deciding how to handle property values for parcels in Crosby, before the board will be a decision on what to do with county real estate values in general.
At April’s meeting of the Crosby City Council, the city rejected the proposed 15 percent increase in commercial property valuations and a 6 percent increase in residential property valuations. Those values were recommended by city assessor Sherlock Hirning to meet state expectations that all real estate be valued within 90 to 100 percent of its true and full market value.
Instead, the city council recommended an across-the-board increase of 6 percent for both types of property.
In May, the city, after listening to Hirning tell them their 6 percent increase might have unintended consequences, decided to nix the 6 percent and simply reject altogether Hirning’s calculations of values.
This is the third year in a row that the city has rejected its assessor’s property valuations.
This prompted Hirning to question why he bothers with assessments at all, if the city will not accept them. He also told the city he’d happily part with the job if they can find someone else to do it.
As a result of the city’s stance, the decision on where to set property valuations in the city once again falls to Divide County Commissioners -- Doug Graupe, Gerald Brady and Tim Selle.
The purpose of the county’s equalization meeting is for the commissioners to decide how they will set valuations after reviewing what the assessors have done for all of the municipalities, including cities and townships. The commissioners compare the work of the assessors with the wishes of the municipalities and decide on a figure to recommend to the state, so that property values fall within the 90 to 100 percent range.
The state can override the county’s decision and set its own rate if it believes the county is short of the 90 to 100 percent mark.
Last year, the county was forced to arbitrate the overall increase and override the city’s rejection of valuations.
Overall, the county upped its mills by nearly 7.2 percent last September.