Assessor will appeal property value adjustments to the State of Utah
San Juan County Assessor Howard Randall is appealing a number of changes made by the San Juan County Board of Equalization (BOE) on local property valuations.
The appeals will be reviewed by the State of Utah.
The Board of Equalization (made up of the three members of the San Juan County Commission) heard appeals on the valuation of more than 110 local properties during BOE hearings in August and September.
Randall will appeal the BOE decision on 37 of the properties, including approximately 23 in the Blanding area and 14 in the Monticello area.
By the end of the day, Randall announced that he would appeal an additional adjustment made by the BOE during the meeting. During the discussion, the Commissioners heard a BOE appeal on the Gouldings properties in Monument Valley. They rolled back the value of the Gouldings properties to previous levels.
The Assessor’s office said that the value of the properties had increased by more than 350 percent in the past year, from $1.6 million to $5.9 million. Randall admitted that the massive increase was due, in part, to “neglect” on his part. “We hadn’t looked at the Gouldings properties in many years,” said Randall.
Mike Ewfield, from Gouldings, said they expect taxes to increase a little each year, “but not like this.” He asked if the county could implement the increase over the next several years rather than in one massive increase.
After discussion, the Commission set the Gouldings valuation at $1.6 million
Randall said that he feels a responsibility to appeal a number of adjustments that were approved by the BOE, explaining, “We should have an independent eye make a recommendation.”
Commissioner Phil Lyman said that he was “very disappointed” in Randall’s appeal.
Lyman said, “If we turn it over to the state, I don’t know why we have an assessor.” He added, “If the commissioner’s BOE is not able to have a say, then the county has no say in the matter.”
Randall explained that the state would take a closer look at the properties and determine what is the correct valuation.
Lyman said, “If Howard wants to take a position that these values are fair, then the whole thing is bogus. If we are dealing in a contest here, I want to stand up for taxpayers.”
He added, “If this is turning into a State of Utah appeal process, we need to make strong statement that we are the elected officials in San Juan County.”
Randall defended the valuation process, stating that it works and is designed to be fair and equitable to all property owners.
In other business at the September 10 Commission meeting, Commissioners set a building permit rate of $700 per tower for the construction of windmills. A number of firms have expressed interest in installing the massive wind turbines, primarily in the Monticello area.
County Building Inspector Bruce Bunker asked the Commission to set the rate. Bunker said that Beaver and Millard counties each charge $700 per tower, while a similar permit costs $2,260 in Spanish Fork.
By estimating the cost of three inspections and other expenses, Bunker suggested a cost $1,240 per tower.
Commissioner Lyman suggested using the $700 amount from the other counties to “show that we are interested in welcoming the projects.” Lyman added that the projects would generate significant property tax revenues and added that “San Juan County should be willing to sacrifice on the front end in exchange for property tax revenues.”
County Librarian Dustin Fife received permission to use a $15,000 grant he received from the State Library for technology upgrades.
Representatives of the Southern San Juan County Fair asked the Commission to advance up to $50,000 more for expenses at the fair, which will take place this weekend in Bluff. The initial county contribution of more than $50,000 to the fair has already been forwarded.
The latest request is for a county advance on funds that the fair board said is promised by the Navajo Revitalization Fund (NRF). County officials expressed concern that the fair board wants to use 2013 NRF money to pay for the 2012 fair. They said that the money could just extend the problem further down the road and suggested that the chapters may feel they have a better use for the funds.
Commissioners said that they would advance the funds if they receive assurance that the NRF board will reimburse the county.