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Assessor’s office classifies more than 30,000 parcels

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of letters the Echo Press is publishing as part of national County Government Month.

To the editor:

The Douglas County Assessor’s Office has a record of every parcel in the county, including property ownership, how property is used (classification) and assessor’s estimated value. Property value and classification as of January 2 are used to determine that particular property’s share of the total property tax for the following year.

There are five main classifications: residential, seasonal, apartment, agricultural and commercial/industrial; each containing numerous subclasses.

The Legislature sets the rate for each classification and even with the same value, some classes pay more tax. We spend considerable time sorting out proper classifications due to Minnesota’s highly complex property tax system. There are homesteads, relative homesteads, classifications for disabled veterans with service related disabilities, for woods with forestry management plans, bed and breakfasts, ma and pa resorts, community service organizations, etc. Due to how we “link” homesteads, it is no small task to properly code and classify every parcel.

Of approximately $5 billion of total valuation, about 45 percent is residential, 22 percent agricultural, 20 percent seasonal, 10 percent commercial/industrial, 2 percent resorts and 1 percent other classes.

Farmland recently spiked and the effects are showing up as higher taxes for agricultural properties 2014 tax statements. This results when one segment of the county (ag land) increases while others (residential, seasonal, commercial) stay relatively flat. It’s not a matter of raising more tax dollars.

Homeowners struggling with their property taxes should apply for a property tax refund. Forms are available at the courthouse and income tax preparers. Individual property information is available on the county website at www.co.douglas.mn.us.

There are 11 employees in the Assessor’s Office sorting through ownership, classification and value of more than 30,000 parcels. They are a fantastic group to work with and property owners should be confident that they take what they do seriously.

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