The Cavalier County Commissioners reviewed the abstract of proceedings of the North Dakota State Board of Equalization relating to real estate property at their meeting on October 6.
Posted on 10/10/15
By Melissa Anderson
The key features of the abstract related to the increase in residential property assessments and a directive from the state to reappraise all residential properties, including the City of Langdon, within the county.
All residential properties within Cavalier County, excluding properties located within the City of Langdon, are to have their assessments raised by 15 percent. The residential properties located within the City of Langdon will be raised 5 percent. These increases are automatic and the city nor the county have any recourse in reducing the amount.
At the onset of the State Board of Equalization hearings, the board had discussed raising the entire county by 45 percent. Cavalier County Tax Director Pam Lafrenz sent in documentation providing evidence that the suggested increase was too high and that a number closer to 10 percent would be adequate.
The board had accepted this recommendation from Lafrenz and was set to approve the increase for residential properties within Cavalier County when Langdon City Commissioner Charles “Chuck” Downs and Langdon City Assessor Mel Carsen attended the final hearing.
While the official minutes from this meeting were not available at time of print, it is known that Carsen stood and addressed the board. After Carsen spoke, the board reduced the increase for the City of Langdon from 10 percent to only 5 percent and increased the rest of the county assessed amount from 10 percent to 15.
The State Board encouraged Cavalier County officials to develop a plan to reappraise all residential properties within the county.
The directive to the Cavalier County Commission was that the residential properties in Cavalier County should have the assessments reviewed for 2016, especially within the townships and the City of Langdon, and to reappraise to ensure assessments represent current market value.
The county commission had a lengthy discussion in trying to determine how to interpret the directive and how best to act upon it.
Commissioner Nick Moser felt that the directive was clear in giving the county authority to begin the process of reassessing the residential properties not only within the City of Langdon but in the entire county.
Commissioner Stanley Dick asked Cavalier County Tax Director Pam Lafrenz if there were more or less residential properties outside of the City of Langdon. Lafrenz responded that she believed there are less properties in the entire county then within the City of Langdon.
Dick asked Lafrenz what she believed the penalty would be should the county not act upon or begin the process of reassessing. Lafrenz believed the result would be another, possibly even larger, blanket tax increase for residents of the county.
After thorough debate and the weighing of options, the motion was made to have Lafrenz begin the process of contacting companies for the reassessment of the residential properties within the entire county, with the focus being on the City of Langdon. The commission stressed that the expediency with which a company could complete the task was to be a key determination in the choice. This motion was made in response to the directive the county has received from the state.
Lafrenz has two weeks to conduct her search before reporting back to the county commission at their next meeting on October 20. At this meeting the county commission will request the presence of the Langdon City Commission to review Lafrenz’s findings .
The county commission is fully aware of how large an undertaking this reassessment will be as well as the cost of the process to the residents of Cavalier County. However, in order to avoid future blanket increases as well as resolve the issues of the current assessment of residential properties within the City of Langdon alone, something must be done.
“It’s clear and it’s a directive from the state,” Dick said.
The county, who has been trying to work with the City of Langdon since June to come up with a feasible and reasonable way to remedy the unequal and incorrect assessments of many residential properties, finally has had enough.
“We tried to give them time and we worked with them beyond a reasonable doubt,” Cavalier County Commission Chair Rick Ring said.
With a lack of cooperation from the Langdon City Commission and little to show for the effort and time spent, the Cavalier County Commission has taken the lead in fixing the problem created this past spring.
“We should be working together, but ultimately we [the county commission] are working for the citizens,” the commissioners said.