CASS COUNTY – A Cass County resident questioned the Cass County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday about a possible appraisal project for the county, specifically why the bids for the project were only coming from one company, Vanguard Appraisal.
The project was discussed by members of the Conference Board last month, and the board includes members of the Cass County Supervisors as well as representatives from other community, including mayors of the different Cass County towns, and board members of different Cass County school districts. Members heard a presentation about reappraising properties from Bob Ehler, president of Vanguard Appraisal, and he gave estimated costs for both commercial and residential appraisals -with commercial at $283,595 and residential at $720,102. Total estimated cost for both projects would be $1,003,697.
Conference Board members are expected to discuss the issue again tonight during a meeting, but had said previously more investigation was needed on ways to do the project, if they decide to go ahead with it.
Robert Short, who lives east of Wiota, told the supervisors he thought if county officials were going to pay $1 million for project, they needed to get bids from more than one company.
“You don’t spend a $1 million tax dollars with out getting competition,” Short said.
Short said he had lived in several counties in Iowa and Minnesota, and thought it was unusual for county officials to get outside help for appraisals.
“No county I have ever lived in his hired outside assessors to do commercial properties and residential, either one,” he said. “That’s always done in house. I don’t see any reason it can’t be done in house, and as one of you supervisors had said at the meeting when this came up, it’s cheaper for us tax payers to add one or two people in that office, on a short term contract for a year or two years (if needed).”
Cass County Assessor Brenda Nelson said county officials have worked with Vanguard Appraisal before- including back in 2005 on a commerical apprasial project- and she said a big reason to do so was because of their expertise.
“The supervisors at that time implemented getting the Cedar Rapids- Vanguard people because those people are ones that are (working) with the Department of Revenue as far as the state manual that all the assessors in Iowa go by,” Nelson said. “I think the credibility really has to fall with them. If the Iowa Department of Revenue is using them, (they are probably a good choice).”
Nelson said ultimately the decision to do the project falls to the conference board, and while she thinks doing the project would be good overall for the county, she said she would stand by the board’s choice.
“It’s up to that conference board to decide,” she said. “I think it would be a nice project to have done. If it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to be upset because it is a lot of work. But I think it would be fair and equable to all the all the residents of the county to have the project done.”