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Property values on the way up

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news Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Property values, and by association, anger over property taxes took center stage during an annual meeting held Tuesday at Dickinson City Hall.

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Dickinson Board of Equalization members unanimously approved increases in property values ranging from 3 to 22 percent.

"Every property did get an increase," city Assessor Jan Zent said. "We sent out approximately 3,600 letters and everybody that got a 10-percent-or-more increase from their previous valuation to the current valuation received a letter."

Those who did not receive a letter will still see an increase in property values, Zent said, but state law requires the city to notify thosewhose property will increase in value by 10 percent or more.

Dickinson resident Jamie Jalbert asked the board when enough was enough.

"My property taxes are going to go up about $800 in the last three years -- where's this end?" he asked. "Is this going to keep jumping every three years?"

Property values are assessed based on market value, which is mandated by state law, Zent said.

"We look at properties like yours -- like year built, like square footage, we look at like homes and compare them to also sales of those like homes, to arrive at a value," Zent said. "We do not physically get out to every property to inspect it yearly, but we have obtained information from previous years that we believe is correct."

"If there is some information that you don't think is correct then we would do a field review of that property."

Commissioner Shirley Dukart said it's important that people speak up if they believe their home is overvalued.

"There's not one home in Dickinson that is the same, ever," Dukart said. "Not even when they're built together as a duplex. There's always something different in every home and the values are different."

Commissioners can't do much in regards to the property tax issue because they are part of the larger property tax equation, which includes the school district, parks and recreation department and Stark County, Mayor Dennis Johnson said.

But Johnson said he has sympathy for those who think taxes are out of control and pointed out the city's general fund receives less than 50 percent of its operation capital from property taxes.

"I'm going to agree with anybody that comes up here and says property taxes are too high," Johnson said. "I believe that as a state we've become too dependent on property taxes."

Four people at the meeting requested reassessments. Zent will reassess the value of 13 homes before the Board of Equalization meets at 4 p.m. on May 18.

Johnson said in the economic climate it is a good sign that values continue to rise.

"We're in a much better position than almost any other area in the country because our assets are still increasing in value rather than declining in value," Johnson said.

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