More Research Needed On Way To Do Reappraisals For County, Board Says

(photo by Jennifer Nichols)

Members of the Cass County Conference Board and staff at the Cass County Assessors Office met Thursday night, and discussed a possible reappraisal project.

CASS COUNTY – Members of the Cass County Conference Board determined during their meeting on Thursday that more research needed to be done on the best way to do reappraisals for the county, but also approved putting $74,000 in the assessors’ budget to start saving in case the county went forward with the project.

Cass County Assessor Brenda Nelson said during a previous meeting that the last time Cass County did any kind of reappraisal project was back in 2005, and it was only for commercial properties. She said it’s typical in the state of Iowa to do “full reappraisal projects” every 10 years. Members also heard a presentation about reappraising properties from Bob Ehler, president of Vanguard Appraisals during a previous meeting, and he said the idea of a reappraisal is “to reset the base line. Get everything accurate again.”

Ehler 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.

Some members of the Cass County Board of Supervisors spoke with individuals from other surrounding counties, and Cass County Board Chairman Steve Baier said many assessors had positive things to say about Vanguard and working with a company outside of the office.

“I checked with a number of different counties, and I’m going to throw out a few generalities here that cover everybody that I’ve talked to,” Baier said. “If you talk to the assessors, they all like it. They like hiring an outside firm. They like hiring Vanguard. When you talk to assessors, they think it’s great, and they think Vanguard’s great. When I talk to supervisors, it’s like talking to someone who’s got to have dental work done. It’s going to cost them, they’re not going to enjoy it, but it probably needs to be done.”

Baier said county officials had about three options, put away money and work with Vanguard officials on the reappraisals, hiring a certified appraiser for the county or hiring a private company to do reappraisals. He said hiring a certified appraiser for the county would cost about the same in salary as an engineer or an attorney, and after visiting with one individual from private appraisal company learned the appraisal cost per property would be about $300 to $400. Vanguard’s cost was somewhere between $112 and $137 per property. He said no matter what option they decided to use, he said, he learned, “So far what I’m researching, none of it looks cheap.”

Many members of the public who attended said they would prefer county officials hire someone to do the job in Cass County, because that person would be living in the county, and spending money in the county.

In the end, members decided to keep the $74,000 in the budget, and continue to research ways to do the reappraisals.