Contact Persons: Mel Hintz (218) 749-7147 - Virginia, Dave Sipila (218) 726‑2304 ‑ Duluth
Assessment Notices are Being Mailed
The St. Louis County Assessor’s Department is in the process of mailing assessment notices to property owners for the assessment year 2007 for taxes payable in 2008. Most of these notices will show valuation increases which reflect the continuing strength of the real estate market in St. Louis County. Although recent news stories indicate that on a national level the real estate market is dropping, sales within our county are not following this trend. In particular, rising prices paid for vacant land show a continued strong demand for this type of property countywide. According to Minnesota Statutes, notices must be sent to all property owners each year including those where no value change has occurred. The new assessment information is posted on the St. Louis County website at where users may search by parcel number, taxpayer, plat, lake, legal description, or property address. In addition, a map depicting the geographic distribution of the changes is posted on the county site at Assessor’s Department/Assessment Information/2007 Assessment Changes.
The Assessor’s values and classifications determine the distribution of each property owner’s responsibility for meeting the property tax portion of the budgets approved by the County Board, School Boards, City Councils, and Town Boards. These budgets are developed by elected officials, and property owners can comment on them at the Truth in Taxation Hearings held in November and December.
Minnesota property tax laws require the Assessor to appraise properties at their market value. Each year, the assessment level for every taxing jurisdiction in the County is reviewed both by the Assessor and the Minnesota Department of Revenue through an Assessment/Sales Ratio Study. For example, a property with an Assessor’s estimated market value of $75,000 that sells for $100,000 has a sales ratio of 75%. Recent sales information shows that the assessment level in many areas of the County has fallen below the minimum acceptable level of 90% as set by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. As a result, the Assessor is required to raise market values either by a complete reappraisal of the jurisdiction, which occurs at least once every five years, or by applying an across the board percentage increase to all property in the jurisdiction.
The following jurisdictions were reappraised by the County Assessors Department for the 2007 Assessment payable in 2008: Cities of Buhl, Cook, Hoyt Lakes, Ely (one fourth), and Winton; Townships of Canosia (except Pike and Caribou Lakes), Fine Lakes, Normanna, Rice Lake, Vermilion Lake; and Unorganized Township 63‑17 on Lake Vermilion. Local assessors employed by cities and townships have also appraised one fifth of the properties in their jurisdictions. Besides these reappraisals, percentage increases have been applied to properties in many areas throughout the county. Most of these increases have been focused on the land value, as buyers continue to pay increasing amounts for rural land county‑wide.
Though market values continue to rise, taxable values will not rise as fast as the valuations, due to the limited market value law passed by the state legislature. Under this program, taxable value increases for payable 2008 are limited to the greater of 15 percent above last year’s taxable value or 33 percent of the difference between last year’s taxable value and this year’s estimated market value. In practice this phases in the impact of rising property valuations over a period of several years. Value increases due to new construction do not receive the benefit of limited market value treatment. This program was scheduled to end with taxes payable in 2008, however it was extended through taxes payable 2010 during the last legislative session.
Property owners with questions about their new assessments are encouraged to contact their Assessor for an explanation on how the value of their property was determined. The County Assessor’s Department has offices in Duluth 726‑2304, Virginia 749‑7147, and Ely 365‑8206. Long distance callers in St. Louis County may call toll‑free 800‑450‑9777. The formal appeal process, which includes Local Boards of Appeal and the County Board of Appeal and Equalization, will begin in early April. The Assessment Notices mailed to property owners provide the dates, times, and locations for these appeal meetings.