In Minnesota, property taxes provide most of the funding for local government services. Steele County collects the taxes and distributes the money between the County, cities, townships, school district and special districts such as the watersheds.
Each property's share of taxes is determined according to its value, use, and the property tax levies. The County Assessor is responsible for estimating property values and setting classification for tax purposes.
Steele County Assessor's Office follows professional assessment and appraisal standards to provide a real estate appraisal practice that is both accurate and uniform in application. All assessment practices are consistent with the standards established by Minnesota Statutes and the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
The assessment function is governed by Minnesota State statute. The law requires that all real property be valued at market value, which is defined as the usual or most likely selling price as of the assessment date of January 2nd each year.
Assessors are historians and measure the market, based on sales, which have occurred previous to the assessment date. Assessor's do not create the value or predict what the market will do; rather the assessor's job is to follow the patterns set by the real estate market.
Information on the sales of real estate is of paramount importance to the assessor in a market based property tax system. Sales information is required to be reported on a form prescribed by the Minnesota Department of Revenue known as a "Certificate of Real Estate Value" or CRV.
The Department of Revenue requires all county assessors to utilize a specified time period for sales analysis. This time period is 12 months from October 1 to September 30 preceding the assessment date. Sales subsequent to this time period will be used to measure changes in the market for the following assessment. All values and classes are as of January 2, each year.
Assessors perform mass appraisals of properties, meaning that we value all properties every year, as compared to a fee appraiser that values properties individually. The assessor's office is charged with setting estimated market values for tax purposes at actual market value. The relationship between sales prices to estimated market value is called the sales ratio. The standard for sales ratio median is from 90% to 105% for each jurisdiction. We make every effort to ensure that each Township and City in Steele County meets this standard as consistently as possible. In this way, we ensure as equitable distribution of the property tax burden for all Steele County taxpayers.
The valuation notices are mailed in the month of March to each Steele County property owner. The valuation notice includes the proposed classification and estimated market value for taxes payable in following year. Also included on the valuation notice are the proposed taxable market value and improvement amount (if any). The previous year's information is also included for comparative purposes.
Property owners are encouraged to contact the assessor with any questions and concerns about the assessment when they get their valuation notice. In most cases, an interior inspection of the property will be necessary to complete the review of the record.
Higher or lower market values do not automatically equate to lower or higher property taxes. Market value only determines the portion of the total tax the property owner will pay, while the level of taxation is determined by the budgets and resulting levies of the varying taxing authorities which are part of the property owners overall tax bill. Stated simply, tax rates are a product of the levy and the taxable market value of each taxing jurisdiction.
William Effertz, SAMA Steele County Assessor