County to contract property appraisals

Understaffing has hindered work of assessor's office

Elbert County Assessor Billie Mills called a four-year deal with Thimgan & Associates "a huge asset for Elbert County.”
Posted

The Elbert County commissioners have approved $360,000 in funding for the county assessor's office to enter into a professional services agreement with Thimgan & Associates, an ad-valorem valuation-consulting firm located in La Junta. 

The four-year agreement, approved at a special meeting of the commissioners on July 30, enlists the firm to assist the assessor's office with appraisals and inspections of nearly 10,000 of the approximately 16,000 properties registered in the county.

“This is a huge asset for Elbert County,” Billie Mills, Elbert County assessor, wrote in a July 30 email. “The assessor's office has been understaffed for several years and has only been able to do the new construction and the sales.”

The goal of the agreement is to develop market models and to establish market values by reappraising land and improvements, including physical inspections of all improved properties registered in Elbert County.

The agreement, set to begin on Aug. 15, folds in existing services already provided by Thimgan & Associates with assessments and market valuations.

Mills is confident that the retirement of the county's chief appraiser, who is leaving at the end of the year, will offset the majority of the cost for the four-year deal. Mills estimates that it would cost around $70,000 per year in salary and benefits to fill the vacated position with an employee holding a Certified General License, while the contract with Thimgan will amount to $78,000 over the $9,000 per year the county is already paying the firm and will offer a depth of services well beyond the capability of a single employee.

In addition, both Mills and the commissioners anticipate increased revenues to the county over the long term as each taxpayer's property values become "fair and equitable."

“Every property in Elbert County will be looked at. If anything has been missed over the years, it will be picked up. With this service, it should generate more revenue for the county and all the entities,” Mills wrote, referring to fire districts and other services provided in the county.

Any increase in revenues would not be immediate. Real properties in Elbert County are revalued in odd years, so any future revenues would be based on the timing of each valuation. No decision has been made yet as to where the inspections will begin.

Kim Higgins, a partner with Eide Bailly CPA firm, praised the decision during her presentation of the 2013 county audit to the commissioners on July 30 as a good step toward improving the county's business practices and enhancing the availability of timely financial information.

The motion passed with a unanimous vote and was enthusiastically supported by all three commissioners.

Comments

2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
RangeRider

Another tax increase is in the pipe! The county has been intent on increasing taxes one way or the other for some time now. They tried the increase last election cycle and now they are just doing it another way by assessing us 'fairly and equitably'! This is just another tax increase pure and simple. The strategy has been to drive the county into debt and then increase taxes to squeeze the life out of what's left by increasing taxes. The government relies on tax increases to cover their budgetary excesses. This is how socialism works by increasing taxes and welfare services to control the people. What a scam. First the tax proposals failed so next we get the sheriff sending out his deputies to write more traffic tickets for 'public safety'. Now we get increased assessor staff to provide 'fair and equitable' increases in property taxes. Right! Hey guys, Ronald Reagan realized that by decreasing the taxes government actually got more tax revenue! Wake up and smell the tea party leaves fellas! This reminds me of the line in the Declaration of Independence “He [the king] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” We have three would-be kings in Elbert called 'commissioners' who are doing the same thing as the English Kings did to the American colonists. I challenge the county commissioners to think outside their tax and spend box mindset instead of increasing the tax burden our our county residents!

Monday, August 4, 2014 | Report this
MichelleMarie

If this is how we ran our households we'd be in trouble...paying $360,000 for something this department is supposed to be doing? My vote is going for Jane, hands DOWN!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | Report this