Property value appeals rise slightly from last year

The number of property tax appeals filed in Mohave County increased only slightly this year despite hundreds of calls to the Assessor's Office in January by people complaining about major increases in the market values of their homes.

The assessor's office mailed 238,000 notice of value cards for the 2004 tax year on Jan.

17 and determined that values increased anywhere from minimal to 30 percent, according to figures released Monday by Mohave County Assessor Bev Payne.

March 18 marked the deadline for property owners to appeal valuations for the 2004 tax year.

Appeals for the full-cash or market value for the 2004 tax year numbered 1,875, compared with 1,854 for the 2003 tax year, according to a fact sheet.

Payment of the first half of 2004 tax bills is not due until Oct.

1, 2004.

Payne said her staff has ruled on about 700 appeals, adding she will not mail rulings to property owners until the remaining appeals are processed.

Her intent is to prevent the county supervisors from hearing multiple appeals throughout the year from property owners dissatisfied with decisions made by her office.

"I'm shooting for June for all of them to be resolved," Payne said.

Payne and her staff explained that while they took hundreds of phone calls after issuing value of notice cards to property owners, many of the callers mistook full-cash values for assessed values.

Assessed value is 25 percent of the full-cash value for commercial property, 16 percent for vacant land and 10 percent for residential property.

The appeals for 2004 involve 125 parcels for vacant or unimproved land in the Bullhead City area, 817 for vacant land in the Kingman area and 57 for vacant land in the Lake Havasu City area.

Appeals for developed land numbered 524 in Bullhead City, 227 in Kingman and 125 in Lake Havasu City.

In the 2003 tax year, appeals filed for vacant land totaled 398 in Bullhead City, 504 in Kingman and 48 in Lake Havasu City.

The improved-land totals were 940 in Bullhead City, 114 in Kingman and 150 in Lake Havasu City.

Payne said several appeals involved more than one parcel, adding Paradise Valley resident Richard Rink filed an appeal involving 320 parcels in the Kingman area.

Rink could not be reached for comment Monday.

Payne said those filing appeals for the 2004 tax year included at least one prominent Kingman resident, Mayor Les Byram.

"I thought a 17 percent increase in one year was excessive," Byram said.

He said that during the past 20 years, the full-cash value on his home near the Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course increased approximately 3.5 percent a year.

Byram said he filed the appeal three to four weeks ago and that two employees from the assessor's office visited his house.

Byram and Wes Semm of Kingman are among several appellants waiting decisions from the assessor's office.

Semm, who filed an appeal after receiving a notice that the full-cash value of his home in the Camelback subdivision rose $32,000, said he spoke to employees at the assessor's office a few weeks ago.

"I got a very positive response from them," Semm said.

"They seem to be trying to work with us."

Payne's fact sheet indicated that her office adjusted full-cash value for the 2003 tax year from $222 million to $192 million, a 14 percent decrease following the settlement of appeals.

Sixty percent of the appellants saw their full-cash value drop.