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Tax man cometh to your mail box

POLK COUNTY -- Brace yourself. Tax statements will be mailed to Polk County residents on Friday, Oct. 22, and most property owners will see increases in their 2010-11 bill.

POLK COUNTY -- Brace yourself. Tax statements will be mailed to Polk County residents on Friday, Oct. 22, and most property owners will see increases in their 2010-11 bill.

Depending on where you live, most county residents will see increases ranging from 0.4 percent to 4 percent, according to data released Oct. 14 by Polk County Assessor Douglas Schmidt. One of the exceptions is Monmouth, where the average resident will see a decrease of 0.3 percent from their 2009 tax bill.

Property tax payments are due to the county by Monday, Nov. 15.

The overall assessed value of Polk County grew by about 3 percent from 2009 to $4.62 billion. The total amount of taxes, special assessments, fees and charges to be collected for all districts in Polk County is about $71.1 million for the 2010 tax year, an increase of 1.7 percent from 2009.

"The primary contributors for this increase is the 3 percent increase in assessed value allowed by law under Measure 50, the need to collect for bond repayment and new value that has been added to a property from any new construction," Schmidt explained.

"As with last year, with the declining real estate market, you would expect your property taxes to go down. However, Measure 50, passed by voters in 1997, does not have a connection between the real market value and the assessed value placed on a property," Schmidt added.

Currently in Polk County, the assessed value for residential property is approximately 76 percent of the real market value. Because your taxes are calculated on the assessed value of your property, the real market value can decrease but your taxes may still increase.

Schmidt said that while the assessed value on your tax statement may only have increased by 3 percent from last year, your total taxes may have gone up or down by a different percentage. Changes different from the 3 percent are primarily due to the bond repayment amounts needed for voter-approved bond measures.

The largest tax increase will be in the city of Dallas at 4 percent, followed by the portion of Willamina inside Polk County at 2.9 percent, Falls City at 2 percent, and West Salem at 1.4 percent.

Property owners in Independence (0.4 percent) and Monmouth (-0.3 percent) will see minimal to no increase over 2009.

"Again, the differences in tax increases is primarily due to the fact that taxing districts either needed more or less revenue to pay off their bond obligations," Schmidt said, adding that the 4-H/Master Gardener/Agriculture/Forestry Extension District that voters approved in May added 7.5 cents per $1,000 to every tax statement.

Schmidt encourages property owners to take this opportunity to review their tax statement for accuracy of information, such as the correct ownership, mailing and location address. If there are any questions or changes needed, contact the Polk County Assessor's Office at 503-623-8391.

Property owners who do not agree with the value placed on their property by the assessor's office will find instructions on the back of the tax statement on how to appeal to the local Board of Property Tax Appeals.

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