Assessor's office fields calls, visits from angry property owners

Staff at the Mohave County Assessor's Office in Kingman fielded hundreds of phone calls and several visits Tuesday from property owners upset over hikes in assessed valuation, which could lead to higher property taxes.

Some property owners told the Miner that their assessed property value increased by $30,000 or more from the past year, and said they plan to appeal the figures to the assessor's office.

The deadline for doing so is March 18.

The assessed values, as reflected in the 2004 notice of value cards mailed on Friday, will not affect tax bills until the half-year payment due Oct.

1, 2004, County Assessor Bev Payne said.

The tax rates have not been yet set for the 2003 calendar year.

Payne said her office in Kingman received a number of calls and visits Tuesday because the office had been closed for three days, adding property owners just received their notice of value cards.

The county observed the Martin Luther King Jr.

holiday Monday.

As of 4:30 p.m.

on Tuesday, office assistant Cynde Hulse logged 110 phone calls, office assistant Sandal Richard received 112 and co-worker Mary Napier took 80 calls, Hulse said.

Hulse said the number of calls was no more than usual.

"It's normal," Hulse said.

Raising and lowering her right hand as if she were picking up the phone, she added, "There have been days when we sit here and just do this."

The front counter at the assessor's office, located at 315 Oak St., also reported a lot of traffic throughout the day.

However, assessor's office staff did not distinguish whether the visitors complained about notice of value cards, or were widowed or disabled persons applying for property tax exemptions.

There are about 240,000 taxable property parcels in the county, and property owners who own more than one parcel receive multiple value cards in the mail, according to Payne.

Payne issued a press release Friday to notify the public that the value cards were in the mail and to advise property owners that they have the right to appeal the new assessed values, which are based on the sale of comparable property.

The cards also show the 2003 full cash value so that both years can be compared.

She said the fact that Kingman's mayor is complaining shows "we are treating everyone the same."

Mayor Les Byram, who lives near the Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course, said several members of his morning coffee group complained about their 2004 assessed values.

He said his assessed value increased by $30,000.

Coffee group participant Jimmie McCreadie, who owned a distribution company for automatic controls before retiring, said he plans to contest the new assessed value for his home on Shadow Mountain Drive.

The house was built in 1989.

"I get a little upset because I was $121,000 in 2001," he said.

"In 2003, they had me down at $126 (thousand), and now they are saying at 2004 it is going up to $137,000.

"What they say is that is the value," McCreadie said.

"The main thing I am concerned with is we give our (public) officials a carte blanche on this valuation."

Also contesting the 2004 assessed value is Wes Semm, who lives in the Camelback subdivision north of Stockton Hill Road and Northern Avenue.

The assessed value on his house increased by $32,000.

"There has got to be a mistake somewhere," he said.

Semm, who is retired from the irrigation business, said the assessor's office reduced his assessed value 10 years ago after a contractor built the house, adding he plans to file an appeal this year.

Payne said she believes "dozens of people" filed appeals and said that 2 percent of property owners typically appeal.