Port faces prospect of property reassessment

Booming business climate, high selling prices for homes have skewed values in city, official says
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington will likely reassess properties in its borders next year.

City Administrator Mark Grams said the city is seeking a proposal for the reassessment from Associated Appraisal of Appleton, which handles the property tax rolls, since the value of properties on the tax rolls has fallen to about 83% of market value.

Last year, the value was 87%, triggering the need for a reassessment within five years, Grams said.

State statutes require a reassessment be done after the values fall below 90%, he said.

The increase in values that triggered a reassessment is due in large part to the fact the last reassessment was done in 2011, when the area was still in the throes of the recession, and the fact the area is now recovering, Grams said.

“It’s the boom times that are causing it,” he said. “Business is booming. People are getting more than what they’re asking for right now.”

And it doesn’t seem to matter if the houses that are selling are starter homes or much larger houses.

“It’s across the board,” Grams said. 

Grams said he doesn’t know how much a reassessment will cost or whether the city will conduct a walk-by reassessment or a walk-through.

He’s also unsure whether the reassessment would be done in one year or split over two years.

“It will all depend on the proposal we get from our assessor,” Grams said.

The last reassessment, done in 2011,  was a walk-by inspection, where assessors examine the exterior of a property and judge its condition, as well as review building permits.

In a walk-through valuation, assessors inspect the interior of properties as well.

Grams noted that the law has changed since the last reassessment. In the past, if a homeowner didn’t allow the assessor inside, the city could increase the value of the house and the owner couldn’t contest the new assessment. Today, the city can make an adjustment but the property owner can appeal the new assessment.

Although many people equate a reassessment with increased property tax bills, that’s not necessarily the case, Grams said.

“Some will pay more and some will pay less,” he said, noting it all depends on how a home’s value changes in relationship to other properties in the community.

But one thing’s for sure, he said, and that’s the fact that the city’s tax rate will go down when the reassessment is completed and the fair market value of houses in the city is brought close to 100%.

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