Special Meeting


06/27/2013, 7:00PM

Present:  Kerry Olson, Chairman; Paul Zent, Supervisor; Ken Selzler, Supervisor; and Elizabeth Patterson, Clerk.  Also in attendance was Kevin Glatt, Burleigh County Auditor; and Al Vietmeier, Director of Tax Equalization for Burleigh County.

Chairman Olson opened the meeting and asked Mr. Vietmeier to begin his presentation.

Mr. Vietmeier said he and Mr. Glatt had asked to meet with the township at this special meeting to address issues the county found with tax equalization in the township and in the work product of the township’s assessor.  Mr. Vietmeier said that on Monday, July 1, he would be asking the Burleigh County Commission to hire Vanguard to reassess Apple Creek Township at a cost of $151,000.  He said the reason he felt the township needed to be reassessed was that the quality of work by the township assessor was not sufficient for the following reasons:
• Sketch work on the assessments was not right and was causing discrepancies in the way properties were assessed.
• At least 30 properties were not included on the tax rolls for the township when the assessor’s books were turned over to the county for tax equalization.  Many of these properties were in the process of being built, but still should have been included with at least a percentage of the value assessed.
• Seven different grades are being used to assess properties in the Copper Ridge Subdivision when the majority of the properties in that development are quite similar.
• Overall, the disparity of assessments within the township is too wide with some properties being grossly undervalued and others overassessed.
• The township assessor has not provided pictures of the assessed properties in the two years he has been in the position.

Mr. Glatt said that if properties are escaping taxation or assessed incorrectly, all residents in Burleigh County are paying the price and it is an issue of fairness to all taxpayers.

Chairman Olson said the price of the reassessment seems high and asked if the township could find someone local to do the reassessment and for less money.  Mr. Vietmeier said he doubts the township would find anyone to reassess the township for less money or as quickly as Vanguard.  He said there just aren’t enough qualified assessors in the area that could take on a project like this full time.  Mr. Glatt said Vanguard is a company out of Iowa that has done and continues to do many assessments throughout North Dakota and is respected by state tax equalization individuals.

In response to a question, Mr. Vietmeier said the reassessment will not affect 2013 values.  If the reassessment is done by November, the new values will be in effect for 2014.

In response to a question regarding the authority of the county to force the township to pay for a reassessment, Mr. Glatt said state law (North Dakota Century Code Section 57-14-08) provides that the county commission has authority to reassess if assessments are not being done correctly.

Supervisor Zent said he was asked by township residents whether a recent appraisal done on a property could be used instead of that property being reassessed.  Mr. Glatt said appraisals would not be accepted and that all properties need to be reassessed in order to start with a clean slate.

Mr. Vietmeier said he was not comfortable with the way the township handled its tax equalization meetings.  He said the township should be equalizing all properties, not just the properties for residents that attend the yearly tax equalization meeting.  Supervisor Zent said that if residents were willing to attend the meeting and discuss issues with the township, the board felt it should work with those residents and adjust their assessments.

Supervisor Zent asked Mr. Vietmeier to clarify his comments from an earlier county commission meeting regarding the “million dollar home” in the township not on the tax rolls.  Mr. Vietmeier said in his opinion the home being built by Nadir Torres will be a million dollar home when finished.  Supervisor Zent said the building permit does not indicate the property will have a value of a million dollars.

In response to a question, Mr. Glatt said if Vanguard does reassess the township, Vanguard will present the reassessment to the township board and there will be an appeal process through the board.  He also said Vanguard will only reassess residential and commercial properties, not agricultural property.

In response to a question regarding the cost of reassessment, Mr. Vietmeier said Vanguard charges per parcel assessed, so as new properties are built in the township this summer the cost could increase.

Supervisor Selzler said the board agrees with the county that there is a problem and the board wants a chance to rectify the situation, but the board feels there was too short a notice.  Mr. Vietmeier said the township assessor’s work looked good the first year he was assessing for Apple Creek, but when the township assessor also took on duties as the Gibbs Township assessor, along with his other jobs, his work declined this year.  Mr. Vietmeier said the township assessor turned in his books on the last day possible (the very end of April), by the May 6 county commission meeting the county tax equalization office realized there were discrepancies in the township, and the county was in contact with the township shortly thereafter to attempt to discuss the equalization issues.  Mr. Vietmeier said there is a short timeframe for getting the reassessment finished because Vanguard is extremely busy.  He said Vanguard has assured him that if the county commission orders the reassessment by August, it will complete the project this year.  If the county commission does not schedule the reassessment with Vanguard by August, the project would not be completed until 2017.

Supervisor Zent said the county has not been able to provide gravel hauling services for the township the past couple of years and has in turn allowed the township to hire its own companies to haul gravel and work with the county on roads in the township.  He said a precedent seems to have been set by the county in this regard and feels that the township should be able to advertise for, interview, and hire a person or company to reassess the township instead of being forced into this by the county.  He also said Vanguard would be welcome to apply to the township for this project and if they are the only qualified applicant that would be fine, the board simply wants to keep the control over the reassessment.

Mr. Vietmeier said he could table his request that the county commission order the reassessment of Apple Creek Township and township supervisors could appear before the commission on July 1 to inform it of their intention to hire their own assessor to reassess the entire township. 

Mr. Glatt said his office would be more than willing to work with the township in advertising for, interviewing, and hiring an assessor for this project.  He also suggested that the advertisement the township uses says it is hiring “an assessor to do a complete reassessment of residential and commercial property”.

Chairman Olson said he could come to the county office next week to begin the process.

Mr. Vietmeier said the person or company the township hires has to understand the Vanguard software system because that is what the county uses.  He also said the software that is currently being used by the township assessor could be transferred at no cost to the new assessor hired by the township.  He said the person or company hired by the township would need to give the township and county a firm date when the reassessment would be completed.

Supervisor Zent made a motion that based on a precedent set by the county to allow the township to hire private companies to provide other services within the township, the township will work with the Burleigh County Auditor’s Office and the Tax Equalization Office to hire a firm or person by August 1, 2013, to reassess the township.  Supervisor Selzler seconded the motion.  The motion passed with Supervisors Zent and Selzler and Chairman Olson voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Elizabeth Patterson

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