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Adams County reassessment amended

Richard D. L. Fulton

(2/5) The Adams County Board of Commissioners recently overhauling 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.

The call for repealing the old reassessment ordinance stemmed from the now-infamous 2010 county real estate reassessment, which left a bad taste in the mouths of many for the then-existing real estate assessment process.

While the reassessment process was created to determine the current, actual value of real estate for the purpose of taxation, the 2010 assessment became a classic example of a process gone awry, according to many property owners adversely impacted.

The process prompted a tsunami of appeals, lawsuits, and a vow by the then-incoming county commissioners to find a means to avoid a similar fiasco in the future.

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 reassessment committee that evaluates the state of the real estate market and other economic factors 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.

County Commissioner Marty Qually told the News Journal the (new) ordinance provides a means of determining current real estate market tends through the application of a formula, called the coefficient of dispersion (COC), which could then serve as a "trigger" that tells the task force it needs to recommend to the county that it should consider implementing either a "statistical" assessment (an in-house review) or a "full" assessment (involving "boots on the ground), depending on what the COC numbers suggest.

Although the new ordinance doesnít eliminate the power that the board of commissioners can initiate a reassessment at any time it chooses, County Commissioner Marty Qually told the News Journal the ordinance does eliminate "political considerations" regarding the timing of the reassessment by making the process more process-driven than election-driven.

"This ordinance is more detailed (than the repealed one), applies the appropriate standards, recognizes outside factors and perspectives, and is more respectful of taxpayer resources," Commissioner Martin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

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