Assessments fall slightly

Published 9:42 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The total assessed value of property in the city fell slightly this year, the city assessor said in a report to City Council Wednesday.

Compared to what was on the books last year, the assessed value fell about 1.75 percent, Assessor Jean Jackson said in her report.

But with new construction and other types of growth factored in, the drop was only .62 percent.

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“It’s not easy, but you put everything back in alignment,” Vice Mayor Charles Brown said after the report.

Jackson said reassessments are guided by a number of methodologies, including the market approach, which estimates a property’s value by looking at comparable sales; the cost approach, which determines the replacement value; and the income approach, which determines future benefits to be derived from the income produced by an asset.

Looking at “arm’s-length” sales — those that were not forced because of foreclosure, short sale, divorce or other distress — the median sales price was $243,224, Jackson said. There were 668 such transactions, more than a third of the total 1,833 sales.

The number of foreclosures also fell about 18.25 percent in 2011, to 336 from 411 in 2010.

Overall, residential properties provide about 75 percent of the total value. Commercial properties are about 19 percent, with the remainder made up of multi-family and agricultural parcels.

Councilman Leroy Bennett inquired whether foreclosures had brought assessments down. Jackson told him that a large number of foreclosures in a single area would affect reassessment values, but not if there were only a couple in a neighborhood of 300 homes.

Jackson said she is preparing a more detailed report that breaks down the average assessment change by smaller areas such as neighborhoods. That report will be delivered to City Council at a later date.

Reassessment notices were mailed this week, Jackson said.

Property owners who do not agree with their reassessment can call 514-7475 to schedule an informal meeting with the assessor who dealt with the property. If the meeting does not resolve the owner’s concerns, the owner can file an application with the Board of Equalization, which is made up of property owners in Suffolk appointed by the Circuit Court. Those not satisfied with the board’s decision can appeal to the Circuit Court.