County equalized values fall, but show signs of recovery
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ARENAC COUNTY — Arenac County’s tentative equalized values fell for this year by only a small amount, which Equalization Director Linda Lewandowski said could be a sign of a recovery.
Lewandowski said equalized values fell 1.82 percent for the 2012 fiscal year, which she said was not a big decrease, and suggested the county’s values could see a recovery in the next few years. In comparison, Lewandowski said other counties throughout the state saw a 2-3 percent drop.
“We’re starting to see a recovery,” Lewandowski said. “There are still a lot of foreclosures, but that can’t be helped.”
The dropping foreclosure rate has slowed down the decrease in equalized value. Lewandowski said 325 properties went into foreclosure in 2010, while only 40 went into foreclosure in 2011.
Residential properties in particular have been doing well, she said. The tentative ratio of foreclosed property sales to sales across the county was roughly 50 percent for 2011, which means the sale price of the properties in a municipality is about the same as the assessed value, Lewandowski said.
“We’re seeing a more stable residential assessed value,” Lewandowski said.
The state requires the residential assessed value to be between 49 and 50 percent of its true cash value, she said, so assessors would need to make adjustments in March to property assessments until they fall into that window. The final assessed values are used to determine the county’s tax base.
Lewandowski said as an example, Arenac Township’s tentative ratio for residential property is 55.17 percent, so the assessor would have to find properties to bring down that assessed value to be in line with the state’s requirements. In contrast, an assessed value below the state requirements would need to be raised.
These changes are then brought before the municipality’s board of review in March to make any additional adjustments, and the adjusted values are taken to the county’s Equalization Department for Lewandowski to look over and accept. In April the adjusted values will be presented to the Arenac County Board of Commissioners for approval as the official county equalized values, and in May are scheduled to be sent to Lansing to help determine the state’s equalized values.
The state equalized value will affect the taxable value of land in Arenac County, and Lewandowski declined to speculate at this time on the effect it could have.
Lewandowski said agricultural, commercial, and industrial tentative ratios are all around the 50 percent range for 2012.
Lewandowski said she believes within five years, the county’s equalized values will have turned around and will be increasing once again.
She stressed the assessed value is not the same as a person’s tax bill, which is based on the consumer price index as part of Michigan’s Proposal A amendment. As a result, Lewandowski said a person’s tax bill could increase while their assessed value drops.