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What is the process of property assessment?

Lawrence County has begun its sexennial revaluation process for tax year 2010 (reflected on the tax bills sent out in 2011).

The Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Revised Code govern real property assessment and equity in Ohio.

The goal of the County Auditor is to ensure that property information is correct and that each property is assessed in a fair and uniform manner.

Ohio law requires revaluations every six years (sexennial) with updates every three years (triennial updates).

The last update occurred with the triennial update in tax year 2007(reflected on tax bills sent out in 2008). Triennial updates are not appraisals, instead values are determined based on a comparison of the Auditor’s current value with verified sales that occurred in the three years since the last appraisal and the indicated percentage change is then applied to all properties in a given neighborhood.

As part of the sexennial reappraisal, the state registered appraisal firms physically visit each and every property in the county to update property characteristics over an approximate two-year period.

This time the project is going to work a little differently, and we are going to be using some new technology. We will be sending out mailers to the owners of all properties with structures on them to verify the information we currently have about the property, and to ask for any additional information we may not currently have (such as the number of bathrooms, the type of heating and/or air conditioning, new additions, etc).

Shortly after those mailers go out the field staff will be going out and taking digital photographs of all the structures. We will also have access to aerial photography of the entire county.

With the information we derive from the returned mailers, plus the information from the two different types of photography we will have very detailed information about all of the county’s properties.

The field staff will then make personal visits on properties for which there are outstanding questions, and then to also do quality control work.

The second part of the sexennial reappraisal process includes appraisal staff looking at sales in each neighborhood to assist in determining fair market values. Ohio law declares, and our courts have determined, that fair market value is the gauge each county should use when valuing property.

This fair market value is the most probable price each property would sell for in an open market between a willing seller and willing buyer, neither of which is under duress to buy or sell, and all parties having full knowledge of all relevant facts about the property.

This excludes auctions, sheriff sales, sales from banks following sheriff sales, sales to relatives, and sales that are dramatically above or below the price at which the property should sell.

Once the values are set, they will not change for the next three years unless some type of change was made to the property. This includes any additions made to the property or demolitions.

The value is one of three possible components that make up your tax bill, the second is the tax rate, and the third is a special assessment certification if it applies to your property.

Once the value is finalized, it is used as part of a calculation with the tax rate in your jurisdiction. The tax rates are set by the voters upon the request of taxing authorities, such as school districts, townships, villages and city councils.

Our office is available to answer any questions you may have regarding this process. We welcome your participation in this process by assisting us in collecting accurate data. Please call 740-533-4310, visit our office located at the County Courthouse in Ironton or go to our Web site at www.lawrencecountyauditor.org.

Ray T. Dutey is the Lawrence County Auditor.