Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

WHO IS TO BLAME?

We are in the middle of a housing crisis. Home values have plummeted. It should be expected that some people in North Mankato were surprised to have their home values increase. According to the Mankato Free Press, the reason is because of a new software program being used by the county assessor's office. The new analysis of values takes into account higher value materials that might be used to construct homes. This unusual situation was mentioned briefly by North Mankato Mayor Dehen on KTOE radio the other day. He made the remark that this situation is not the result of any city action, but is entirely "on the county".

Yes it is on the county; but no--it really is not on the county. Property owners are upset and the human nature in all of us looks for a place to put the blame. How does this situation come to be?

BLAME THE COUNTY
County staff have to play with the cards they are dealt. The big dealer in this case is the Minnesota House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and state revenue officials. They are in charge.

BLAME THE STATE
The state decides the rules on how property shall be assessed for taxation purposes. They decide what properties should get tax breaks i.e. homes, churches etc. They also decide what properties do not get tax breaks. The rules mandate that local officials do their best (they must swear under oath) to equalize values of all properties in the county. Values are determined by sales histories.

BLAME THE BUYERS
Is it the county's or state's fault that sales of various properties increase of decrease? If not them---then who? Who buys properties and why? There are a myriad number of reasons for why properties are bought and even more reasons why purchase prices are what they are. Some reasons could be a good economy, a poor economy, low interest rates, high interest rates, lending institution policies, personal lifestyles choices, family transitions, demographics of citizenry, government incentives, government dis-incentives, and on and on and on.

BLAME US
So, who is to blame for increased or decreased property values? The answer is that we all are. Have we purchased property and paid more or less than the "true value"? Most of us are guilty because we are humans and as humans we allow our emotions to influence our decisions. Also, collectively, we have allowed our property tax system to be what it is and we have not instilled in our elected officials that we want it changed and HOW it should be changed for the betterment of all. end

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