Assessors answer questions on homes

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

Assessors from Scott and Le Sueur counties presented an overview of their jobs and discussed home issues at the New Prague City Council's Monday, March. 2, meeting.

The city is split between the two counties, with residents north of Main Street in Scott County and south of Main Street in Le Sueur County.

Le Sueur County assessor Dave Armstrong, Scott County assessor Farley Grunig and Scott County auditor Cindy Geis also answered questions from the 23 people who attended the meeting. Many questions centered on the more than 100 homes built by Parish Marketing that were later put into foreclosure. People asked how the homes have affected the market, whether foreclosed homes in the city were considered in determining market value and who residents could talk to about adjusting the value of houses due to those foreclosures.

The assessors explained that foreclosed houses are not included in the annual sales ratio analysis. Those properties are not considered an open market sale, where buyer and seller are acting prudently and the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Only open market sales are used to determine assessed values.

Armstrong added that changing a market value due to foreclosures would have to be brought before the Department of Revenue.

From October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2008, Armstrong said there were 99 foreclosed homes in the Le Sueur County portion of New Prague, with all but 18 being Parish Homes.

Grunig said that of the 981 foreclosed homes in Scott County during that same time, 26 of those were in New Prague.

When asked how the federal stimulus plan would affect open market sales, Grunig said assessors would have to discuss that with the Department of Revenue.

Geis noted residents can attend an open book meeting, where they can appeal the 2009 market value, which helps determine the 2010 payable taxes of their homes. Le Sueur County's open book meeting for New Prague will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at Le Sueur County Courthouse. Scott County's open book meetings will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 6 and 7, at Scott County Government Center.

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