This morning I read a report in the Times Free Press about the three people running for the office of Hamilton County assessor of property. It appeared to me that one of the candidates had no idea as to the function and responsibilities of the assessor, and one wanted to change the reappraisal time from every four years to each year for one quarter of the properties. With this arrangement, four areas of the county could have four different tax rates.
Changing the time of the reappraisal is not a prerogative of the county assessor but is determined by state law.
State law sets the time for appraisal and determines the authorized tax rate at the end of the appraisal. The new authorized rate must produce an income neutral to the county when combined with the new total county appraisal. That is: a lower total appraisal will cause an automatic tax rate increase or a higher total appraisal will produce an automatic lower tax rate.
The assessor must be aware of the state laws and have the executive ability to command a staff large enough to deal with every home owner and business owner in the county to fairly appraise their properties to provide fairness to all taxpayers as their appraisals are set.
As one of five members of the Hamilton County Equalization Board, it is my responsibility to ensure that proper procedures are used, laws are followed, and each taxpayer and appraiser is given his opportunity to state his case as to the fairness of all final appraisals when there are disagreements. It is not my responsibility to take sides with the assessor, the staff, or the taxpayer. It is my responsibility to see that those appearing at the Board of Equalization as well as the other 150,000 taxpayers are treated equally; and to do this, we must have strong, knowledgeable people in the assessor office where daily decisions are made affecting the financing of our county government..
Grady L. Rhoden
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I completely agree that strong knowledgeable people should be heading up the property assessor office. I would add honest, forward-thinking and hard-working, as well.
While Mr. Rhoden did not endorse any of the three candidates, he only commented on two, neither of which is the incumbent. The statement directed at me was about an idea I had discussed in a previous interview. The suggestion I made was to appraise one quarter of the total parcel count each year. In this way we could even out workflows, make operating costs more predictable, as well as, save Hamilton County taxpayers’ money. I am aware of state law on the subject and don’t presume a decision on this idea would be made unilaterally. The office of the assessor could present the option however.
The assessor could provide information on best practices proven in other areas. For instance, in Cook County, Ill. they divide up one third of the parcels to appraise each year for three years. A forward-thinking assessor should aspire to benchmarking against the best.
Maybe you are right in not making any comments about the incumbent, Mr. Rhoden. After all, we have 18 years of history to look back on.