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County reassessment process amended

Richard D. L. Fulton

(2/10) The Adams County Board of Commissioners recently overhauled the county reassessment system to reform the process, eliminate "fantasy" evaluations, such as calling a swamp a development site, and to remove politics as an influential factor.

Commissioner and vice-president of the board Jim Martin said, as far as the repeal of the old reassessment ordinance and its replacement, "Itís (the new ordinance) in place," having been adopted by the board at the end of last year.

Martin pointed-out that the new ordinance corrects a number of issues embedded in the old ordinance, and creates a more realistic reassessment process.

Two key changes the new ordinance mandates are: 1) the establishment of a county Reassessment Task Force that evaluates the property values and markets in order to formulate a recommendation to the board of commissioners regarding whether or not a reassessment was justified; and 2) the abandonment of a formerly-mandatory four-year cycle for reassessment.

The process to determine if a reassessment is called for will now be a two-step process.

The first step calls for the Adams County Tax Services Department to annually determine a coefficient of dispersion (COD) based upon real estate sales "which occurred in Adams County between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year."

The COD represents the average percent of deviation of valid property sales from the median assessment as developed using a statistical analysis and type of ratio study.

If the county Tax Services Department determines that the COD for all of Adams County is greater than 20.0 for two consecutive years, then the second step of the process kicks-in, and a newly created county Reassessment Task Force will be tasked with examining and recommending potential courses of action and options based upon the COD evaluation.

Upon a recommendation by the task force to perform a reassessment, the board of commissioners will decide whether to undertake a reassessment, and what form it will take.

The board of commissioners can decide to take no action, or to conduct a statistical reassessment, or to conduct a full reassessment.

A statistical reassessment is a statistical analysis that would be completed by the county Tax Services Department or an outside vendor, which does not include field observation or field study. A full reassessment is a statistical analysis that includes field observations and/or field studies.

"This ordinance is more detailed (than the repealed ones), applies the appropriate standards, recognizes outside factors and perspectives, and is more respectful of taxpayer resources," Commissioner Martin stated.

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