Don Oliver expected his residential property’s appraised value to go up in 2023.
The Louisburg resident, though, didn’t anticipate a double-digit increase in his property valuation.
“If we had a reasonable increase, 5-6 percent — somewhere in that neighborhood — I would be happy living here as long as I can,” Oliver said. “We’re over 16 percent increase. That’s going to put a cap on me someday.”
Oliver explained he is retired and has a fixed income.
“I’d like to live here as long as I want to, not as long as I can afford to,” Oliver told county commissioners at their Wednesday, March 8, meeting.
He was not alone. The commission chamber was filled with people waiting for their turn to express concern about the Miami County appraised property valuation they recently received in the mail.
Overall, Miami County’s median residential property valuation in 2023 went up 19.68 percent from last year, according to information from the Miami County Appraiser’s Office.
Frustration over property tax increases prompted the creation of the Facebook group page Miami County KS Property Tax Appeal, which now has over 2,500 members.
Some property owners posted their valuation notices on the page to show their individual increases. Others asked questions or challenged comps used to help determine their valuations, as well as expressed numerous other questions, including asking how the appeal process works.
Speakers at the commission meeting Wednesday raised many of the same questions.
Some speakers, several on fixed incomes, also talked about how people are coming in from outside of Miami County and paying more than the asking price for local properties that are in high demand, which drives up the comp values.
“We built this house where we’re at to retire,” Paola resident Stacy Miles said. “It’s appraised at $344,000; we built it for $150,000.”
Miles said their home insurance went up too because of higher appraised values.
“We can’t pay for people who come from other places and pay higher prices for homes during a period when houses are in a shortage,” Miles said.
Even after a person pays off their mortgage, they don’t own their house free and clear, Louisburg resident Charles Purvis said.
“My family has been here since 1870, and I’ve been around since 1951,” Purvis said. “As long as you have property taxes, you can never own the house you live in.”
Other speakers asked if the reappraisal has to occur every year. Others asked if the county could put a freeze on property taxes or eliminate them for seniors — the price of everything has gone up. Commissioner George Pretz said eliminating property taxes for senior citizens or other groups of people would have to be decided in Topeka. He urged the audience to contact their state legislators.
Commission Chair Tyler Vaughan pointed out appraised valuations and property taxes are not the same thing.
He said the county was revenue neutral in the 2023 budget, meaning the county did not take in one penny more in property taxes than it did in 2022.
Pretz said to compensate for last year’s increase in appraised valuations (the county was up 13.85 percent in 2022), the commission had to lower its mill levy by six mills to ensure the county was revenue neutral.
He and Vaughan said the county has no control over other taxing entities in the county, so a person’s property tax bill could go up if the city or school district or both raised their mill levies or did not reduce them to offset the increase in assessed valuation.
Vaughan also explained the commission has no control over setting property values.
“The appraiser is state regulated,” Vaughan said. “We, as a County Commission, cannot tell him how to value properties. We have no authority over our county appraiser.”
Vaughan, though, showed support for Miami County Appraiser Justin Eimers.
He said the state requires county appraisers to come within 10 points above or below the market value. Vaughan said Eimers has graded out in the low 90 percent range on full market value the past two years, which favors the property owner.
Vaughan said the 2023 property valuations just mailed out will be considered when the 2024 budget process begins in June. He encouraged people to be engaged in the budget process.
County Appraiser Eimers closed out the discussion by answering questions audience members had posed.
“We try to find the closest (proximity) comps we can find,” Eimers said. “Sometimes, you have really unique properties like a log home or an earth contact that you might have to look a little further out.”
There has been speculation, on Facebook and elsewhere, that the county uses Zillow to do its appraisals.
Eimers told the audience the county does not use Zillow.
“We use Marshall & Swift Valuation Service,” Eimers said. “They are the number one building cost provider in the country.”
The appraiser’s office also uses a software called Eagle View that provides the ability to collect images from all four sides of a property.
Eimers said it is not possible to put a temporary stay on property valuations. He said his office, by state statute, is required to reappraise property every year.
“I’m required to value property at market value,” Eimers said.
He also noted the market hasn’t been stagnant for some time.
“If you have questions, it’s certainly okay to appeal,” Eimers said.
The 2023 informal appeal form can be found under the tab Applications & Forms on the county appraiser’s page of the county website, www.miamicountyks.org.
Property owners have 30 days from the time the property valuations are mailed to file their informal appeal, which means the deadline would be by the end of March.
“The appeal must be made within 30 days of the mailing of the notice and must be made to the Appraiser’s Office,” according to language on the county appraiser’s page.
Eimers left a stack of his business cards at the front table for audience members to pick up on their way out.
“I encourage anyone who wants to talk with me personally to set up an informal meeting,” he said. “I am happy to do that.”
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