Equalization: “expect your property assessments to go up substantially”

PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. — The Pennington County Equalization Office is trying to get a message out ahead of this year’s assessment notices.

That message?

“Expect your property assessments to go up; expect them to go up substantially. We’re seeing some very large increases; our market has gone up a lot this year; it went up a lot last year, and we have to keep up with that market,” says Shannon Rittberger, director of equalization for Pennington County.

The impact of the local housing boom translating into those increases, with preliminary numbers showing 20- to 30% jumps in assessments.

“Your property assessment should track the market; if our market goes up, you should expect your assessment to go up…if our market goes down – if that were to happen – your property assessment would go down,” Rittberger says. “[That] doesn’t mean your taxes would go down.”

State law requires equalization to assess your property at it’s full market value, meaning what you could sell it for, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes will increase proportionally.

“If your assessment goes up, that doesn’t mean that your taxes will go up,” Rittberger says. “It could, and it usually does, but in an increasing market that we have now, your property taxes can’t go up as much as the market is.”

He says taxing entities will collect what they need to perform their services, and their budgets can’t increase more than 3% a year – regardless of whether your assessment went up or down.

Once assessments are mailed in March, homeowners will have a short window to appeal the valuation,  a process that starts with a call to the Equalization Office.

While those assessment notices aren’t out yet, there is help available now if you’re 65 and older or disabled. The Treasurer’s Office has a program that can help lower your taxes.

“What this program does for the seniors and disabled is that from your qualifying year, it will freeze the assessed value of the year that you either became disabled or 65, and then that’s what your tax levy will be multiplied by,” says Pennington County Treasurer’s Office Chief Deputy Annette Brant.

The deadline for the freeze is April 1, and with a detailed application process, Brant advises those looking to take advantage start the application as soon as possible.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Senior Citizen and Disabled Tax Freeze.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News