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Farm values take big jump, homes rise slightly in Reno County

Homes and businesses The appraised value of residential properties ... Big case pending A case out of Johnson County pending before the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals related to vacant commercial buildings could have a significant impact in Reno County ...

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John Green Values for farmland shot up some 5.6 percent, and rural farmsteads by an average 3 ½ percent in Reno County during the past year, data the appraiser’s office released this week shows.Residential home values, on the other hand, grew less than 2 ½ percent overallRemove the value of new construction from the total, and that drops the growth to just 1.6 percent.Commercial properties, meanwhile, gained less than 1 percent in total value – all of that attributed to new construction – while the value of vacant properties declined.Overall, the county’s total valuation grew by about $68.6 million or 2.2 percentExcluding new construction, values went up just 1.3 percent overall.Time to appeal is nowIf a property owner disagrees with the new value on an individual property – value notices should have been received in the mail over the past week – now is the time to make inquiries, advised County Appraiser Brad Wright.“This is the time when it’s easiest to make adjustments,” Wright said“If they wait until tax time, it’s more complicated, and it affects budgets.”The deadline to file a protest to values is 30 days from the notice mailing date, or April 1The Appraiser’s Office will schedule an informal hearing with the taxpayer, and if the parties don't reach an agreement, a formal hearing will follow.Most issues are resolved through the informal hearing, Wright said.The change in values discussed, Wright noted, are averagesNot every homeowner, for example, will see a 1.6 percent increaseSome values dropped, while some climbed significantly more, but overall the value of residential property in the county grew.Values are determined through a combination of comparing property sales that occurred over the past year with “like” homes or commercial buildings that were not on the market, as well as local appraisers visiting 14 percent of all properties in the county annually, so that every property is viewed at least every seven years.For homes, the county compares each property to at least three other like properties, including at least one that sold in the previous year, to determine market values.“We had a lot of residential sales in the county,” Wright said“We’re still moving a lot of homes in Reno County, and prices are strong.”Homes and businessesThe appraised value of residential properties – which account for 53 percent of the assessed value of all property that local government entities collect taxes on – totaled $2.16 billion for Reno County Jan1.That’s up $48.54 million from 2017 values.Some $13.43 million of that value, however, is from new constructionRemoving the new construction, existing home values rose just $35.1 million, to $2.149 billion.Commercial properties make up about 30 percent of the counties assessed value.The appraiser’s data shows commercial values for 2018 totaled $573.72 millionThat’s up $4.52 million or 0.8 percent from 2017.New commercial construction in the county during 2017 topped $12.15 million, the figures showDeducting new construction from the total shows the value of existing commercial property actually dropped nearly $7.63 million or 1.34 percent from the previous year.Big case pendingA case out of Johnson County pending before the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals related to vacant commercial buildings could have a significant impact in Reno County, depending on how the board rules, Wright and County Counselor Joe O’Sullivan noted when discussing the new values Tuesday before the Reno County Commission.In that case, “dark box” owners, or those who own vacant properties that previously housed big box stores -- such as the Kmart and Target buildings in Hutchinson -- are arguing the value of the property drops to near zero when the original occupant leaves because of the nearly non-existent market for such large buildings.“They have not sold in a lot of cases and don’t have a lot of potential buyers,” Wright explained“The taxpayer feels, once they lose a franchise, the property is no longer of value, that they are a single use property, and the appraisal should reflect that.”The appraiser’s office does adjust values when a building becomes vacant, but not to the level the property owners are seeking, he said.Regardless of what the state board rules, O’Sullivan said, the case likely will be appealed to the district court.Farm values upThere two appraisal classification for farmsA farmstead is a rural home on agricultural land, while the agricultural listing is the land used for crops, pasture or CRP.Both were up.Farmstead values totaled $192 million in Reno County on Jan1That’s up more than $6.5 million from last yearThere was some new construction, but it accounted for just $1.8 million of the gain.Farmstead values are determined by the local appraiser’s office, while agricultural values are set at the state level, based on an 8-year rolling average and a complex formula that includes land sales, commodity prices and soils types.While commodity prices – and thus farm incomes – are down significantly this year, because of that rolling average it will take at least another year before down farm sales bring land values down, Wright said.Agricultural land values totaled $172.4 million, up some $9.125 million from last year.Farmers took the biggest hit in appraisal increases last year, as well, Reno County records show, with some $11 million in added value and a combined 13 percent jump in values over the past two years.Nevertheless, Reno County farmers took less of a hit than others areas of the state, Wright said, with the average hike on agricultural land statewide for 2018 almost double Reno County’s, at 10 percent.Other propertyEach class of property has a different tax assessment rateFor example, the assessment on a home or that portion of value that is taxed equates to 11.5 percent of the appraised valueFor a commercial building, the rate is 25 percent, while for ag land it depends on whether the property has equipment, such as an irrigation system, on it.One other category Wright lists for its values – even though it does not generate property taxes – is property that is tax exempt.For 2018, Reno County has more than $346 million in exempt property or just under 10 percent of the total appraised value.That is up $1.75 million or ½-percent from a year ago.There’s a wide variety of properties that qualify for exemptions, Wright said, such as buildings owned by government entities, churches and some non-profitsSome are only partially exempt.“They’re not true players in our valuation system, but I still feel we want to be as close as possible on their appraised values,” Wright said“When a property sells, a lot of factors come inSome go from on exempt owner to another, but other times they will go on the tax rolls.”While the value of exempt properties crept up this year, compared to values from two years ago, the total is down more than $90 million or more than 20 percent, the data showsWright couldn’t offer a specific reason for the drop, other than “we’ve made adjustments trying to get values tighter and tighter.”The total appraisal figures he presented, Wrights noted, do not include oil and gas leases, utilities or other state-determined assessments. 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