Hayfield residential property values jump an average of 28 percent

January 4, 2019

MANTORVILLE — Taxpayers attending the Dodge County Truth in Taxation hearing on Dec. 27 heard that the scarcity of moderately priced homes in Rochester has pushed homebuyers into Dodge County, driving up property values and taxes.

County Assessor Ryan DeCook said property values are rising countywide.

“It might have something to do with those lower priced homes in Rochester not being available any more. … People expanded into the (Hayfield) market to purchase in the lower $100,000 range. Countywide, we increased (values) in every jurisdiction for residential properties.

The value of their homes might have increased, but that’s little solace to those on fixed incomes and no plans to sell. The subsequent tax increases have left some between a rock and a hard place.

“I haven’t done one thing to my place,” said Dick Smith, of Westfield Township. “My damn taxes are getting so high, I can’t afford them.”

He requested that a representative from the county assessor’s office inspect his property to be sure it is valued correctly.

County Commissioner Rod Peterson explained, “I’m not saying it’s a good system or a bad system. It’s the system we have to comply with. It’s property-based value. Your home’s value is compared to other homes and what they sold for. So, the way property is valued is by how much other people want to pay for it.”

County Administrator Jim Elmquist said that the prices paid for real estate are considered to be the value of real estate in the county. A seller’s market can drive up everyone’s valuation.

“Our office is required to value property at its market value,” DeCook said. “The Department of Revenue measures our performance by comparing county property value to the amount received for properties that have sold. If assessors’ valuations are outside of a 90 percent to 105 percent range of those sales prices, changes must be made or property in the county is subject to State Board adjustments.”

One man asked if the county could do anything to stop this escalation caused by “outside influences” such as the markets in Owatonna and Rochester.

People with higher incomes come into the county and buy property, he said. “But they don’t spend their income here.”

He also asked if farm land would be revalued in the near future.

County Finance Director Lisa Kramer said that the valuation of ag land will also likely increase. DeCook said that ag land valuations might have to go up as much as $1,000/acre, to be within the required ratio.

“It’s absolutely surprising considering the price of corn and soybeans,” he said.

Peterson agreed. Farm land prices are, “… higher than commodity prices would suggest.”

In private meetings, employees from the assessor’s office, Matt Naatz and Jeremy Farar, reviewed the valuations for each property owner who came to the hearing to be sure there were no errors in the valuations and to answer questions for taxpayers.

DeCook reminded people that an increase in property taxes of more than 12 percent makes property owners eligible for a special property tax refund for one year. He urged property owners to remind their tax preparers of this.

The commissioners meet again at 9 a.m. Jan. 8 at the Government Services Building, 721 Main St. N. in Mantorville.

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