ATLANTA - Tax assessments in Montmorency County seem to be tracking as usual from 2013, according to Equalization Director Kevin Keller. The sales have leveled off, and the dollar amount of the sales overall are maintaining a steady amount.
Keller said sales ratios are fairly steady, and are near 50 percent, which is around where they need to be. He said it is good to see them finally leveling off.
"The projection right now is three to five years to look for the increases to start back up where we can actually maintain the cost of living," Keller said. "It's rough right now."
As far as large impacts on the tax assessments, there were several changes in the assessment of Albert Township that will affect the overall total.
"The biggest thing that is affecting us right now is Albert Township went through a complete reappraisal, and the values are going down because of that," Keller said. "There are a lot of things that were on the roll that shouldn't have been, and that has caused the values for Albert to go down. With Albert being one of our largest townships, it has affected the assessments tremendously."
The equalization department is right in the thick of crunching numbers for tax assessments, and has been keeping up with the most recent exemptions, such as the one for veterans. Keller said veterans exemptions are affecting the assessments, but not at a high rate.
"There are only a select number of veterans in the county who qualify for the exemptions, more than the suspected number, but the overall effect on taxes has not been as much as expected," he said.
Personal property tax exemptions have not affected the assessments much either based on the makeup of the county. Keller said there will be some businesses in line with the exemption, but the area won't notice much of a change.
"We don't have a huge industry here. Mostly all of our businesses are 'mom and pops,' so there's nothing real tremendous there," Keller said. "I imagine Alpena will be hurting, and I know Gaylord is going to get hit pretty hard. Having the small businesses insulates us a little bit. Same thing with the residential, we haven't had those steep dives because we're not affected by industry. We didn't have that huge run up ten years ago and now we don't have that steep dive in the values."
Commercial and industrial sales studies are complicated to do for the county because there aren't very many areas that have the same comparable values to those in the area.
"I'm required by the state to do sales studies for those classes, even though we only have some of the townships with two or three commercial or industrials out there," Keller said. "Trying to find somewhere that has a comparable value is difficult. As far as tax assessments go, right now, it's crunch time."
Anyone who needs assistance with veterans exemptions or personal property exemptions, if they've gone to the board of review and tried to go to their assessor already, Keller said to come to the county equalization office and they will try to help as much as possible and point them in the right direction.
"The whole idea for equalization is to be fair and equitable," he said. "My job is to make sure everyone is assessed fairly and equitably."
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.