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Tax notices go out; all quiet in assessor’s office

By Jeffrey Pieters

The Post-Bulletin

Last year at this time, the county assessor’s office was practically drowned with telephone calls from people angry or confused about their 2006 tax notices.

The relative quiet there on Monday suggests a happier public for the 2007 tax cycle, said Mark Krupski, the county’s director of property records and licensing.

His office sent about 62,000 notices to homeowners, business owners and farm owners on Wednesday. Most of those notices probably have been received by now.

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And the verdict so far? Krupski himself handled only about 10 telephone calls, "which isn’t too bad, really, for 62,000 (notices)," he said.

"Last year it was off-the-hook at this time," he said. "This year, we did a little better job informing folks" who were due for big tax increases because their properties were being revalued.

The notices include a projection of each homeowner’s property taxes payable in 2007, although the numbers aren’t final.

In the spring, the office pushed for media coverage to inform taxpayers that their tax-assessed values for the coming year were being set.

Even then there wasn’t much response, Krupski said.

"For the majority of (property owners), the values remained the same," he said.

Now, local governments are going to be considering the other part of the equation setting individuals’ tax bills: the tax levies themselves.

For now, Olmsted County is considering a 9.8 percent increase. Rochester is weighing a 6.6 percent increase. The Rochester school district is considering just a 0.55 percent increase.

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The increases are only preliminary at this point and, if history is a reliable guide, probably will be lowered in the next month, after each local government holds a truth-in-taxation hearing. Under state law, tax levies can’t be raised higher than currently proposed.

Last year, commercial-class properties in Rochester were subject to large tax increases because tax assessors increase values over the whole class. This year, agricultural and rural residential properties were adjusted and might see some of the same kinds of broad increases, Krupski said.

Established neighborhoods in southwest Rochester, "Pill Hill" and the surrounding area, got a close look from assessors last year, and some properties in those neighborhoods could be in line for big increases this year, Krupski said.

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