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Washington County hears concerns regarding property values

Homeowners went before the Washington County Board last week to voice concerns about increasing property values and associated tax hikes.

The board, acting as the Board of Appeal and Equalization, reviewed concerns at the annual public hearing that follows the distribution of assessment notices in the spring.

The county received 1,300 calls since notices were sent in March, which is three times the number of calls received last year, county assessor Bruce Munneke said.

Darlene Moynagh, of Afton, said her 1962 home still has the same linoleum flooring, original counter tops and same fixtures, and yet her estimated appraisal came in $100,000 more than buyers are willing to pay.

“I thought $475,000 was a dream,” she said. “I just don’t think anybody would pay that.”

Bill Tronson, of Woodbury, said his value also went up by $42,000, a 36 percent increase from last year. He compared his property, a 1,000-square-foot townhome, to recent sales in the area and found the value should be much lower than it was appraised by the county.

“We want to establish the real values of the homes,” he said.

Bruce Frimerman shared the same sentiment and said his fourplex that hasn’t been updated since 1984 shouldn’t be compared to something with an updated kitchen and bathroom.

“I pay exorbitant taxes,” he said. “And to pay it on a higher value just doesn’t seem fair.”

Homeowners presented data they gathered from real estate agents who analyzed their markets to prove values have not gone up as much as the county reports.

However, Washington County uses a big picture approach when doing appraisals, rather than individual properties, said Jennifer Wagenius, director of property records and taxpayer services.

“We’re looking at neighborhoods and what they’re selling for,” she said. “And we go into the homes once every five years.”

Once property owners appeal, the county will do more analyses with individual and comparable sales to figure out if values need to be adjusted, she added.

Deputy Administrator Kevin Corbid said data available today can be baffling for homeowners trying to figure out why their property values change from year to year.

“There is so much information out there, some of it is contradictory,” he said. “There is just a lot of data out there that’s confusing.”

Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel said the county uses a formula to distribute the tax burden throughout the entire county and no new taxes have been injected into county funds as a result of property value increases.

“If somebody’s taxes go up, somebody’s taxes go down,” he said.