Tuesday, October 15, 2013
POLK COUNTY -- Ready or not, property tax statements will likely be arriving in your mailbox next week.The Polk County Assessor's Office has certified the 2013-14 tax roll to the county clerk, which starts the process of mailing tax statements and collection of taxes.Tax statements could be mailed as early as Monday, and will go out no later than Oct. 25.One of the biggest changes regarding property taxes is that banks in Polk County will not be accepting property tax payments this year. Those who have paid taxes at a bank before will now need to mail in their tax payment, bring it to the tax collectors' office in the courthouse building or use the online payment program.Douglas Schmidt, Polk County assessor, said the total real market value in Polk County increased by less than .5 percent from last year to $6.71 billion. The overall assessed value of Polk County grew by about 2 percent from last year to $4.92 billion.The total amount of taxes, special assessments, fees and charges to be collected for all districts in Polk County is approximately $76.0 million for the 2013 tax year, an increase of 1.2 percent from the $75.1 million in 2011.Most property owners will see an increase in their property taxes this year."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 said.Schmidt stated that almost half of the residential property owners in Polk County are paying taxes on their real market value this year. For that reason, because real market values as of Jan. 1 were fairly stable when compared to last year, the increase in taxes may be less than the 3 percent the law allows."As with last year, with a real estate market that is holding steady or declining as of Jan. 1, you would expect your property taxes might go down," Schmidt said. "However, under Measure 50, passed by voters in 1997, the taxes are based on the assessed value, not necessarily the real market value, plus Measure 50 does not have a connection between the real market value and the assessed value placed on a property."While the assessed value on tax statements can only go up 3 percent, taxes may have changed by a different percentage. The reason for that is in addition to each taxing district's permanent tax rates, there may be amounts assessed for voter-approved bond measures, Schmidt said.Some areas of Polk County, including Dallas and Falls City, actually saw their overall tax rates decrease for 2013-14. But property owners still may pay more in taxes because of the increase in their assessed value.Meanwhile, overall tax rates increased in Monmouth and Independence due to voter-approved bond measures -- Monmouth, a levy for a new police station; Independence, for its debt refinancing measure -- which results in bond amounts for those cities being greater than the bond amounts those cities had last year, Schmidt explained.Currently in Polk County, the assessed value for residential property is within 6 percent of the real market value, compared to a gap of 7 percent last year. As the gap narrows, more home owners could be paying taxes based on their real market value versus their assessed value.However, because most home owners' real market value is still greater than their assessed value, they might not see a reduction in their taxes even though their real market value may have gone down.When looking at the value portion of the tax statement, the real market value is the value the assessor believes your property would have sold for on the open market as of Jan. 1. The assessed value is the value your taxes are calculated on.More than $2.7 million in taxes will be collected for the four urban renewal districts operating within cities in the county: Salem, $1,948,679; Independence, $407,130; Monmouth, $227,062; and Dallas, $125,973. That money goes toward urban renewal projects in those communities, Schmidt said.Property owners are encouraged to review their tax statement for accuracy of information, such as the correct ownership, mailing and location address. People can contact the assessor's office with questions or changes by calling 503-623-8391.If you disagree with the real market value the assessor has placed on your property, you can contact the assessor's Office to have your value reviewed, free of charge, prior to filing an appeal. If owners do not agree with the review, they can find instructions on how to appeal to the local Board of Property Tax Appeals on the back of their tax statement.