By Karen Brumbaugh
The duty of the Ottawa County Appraiser’s office is to discover, list, and appraise all real estate and personal property subject to taxation in Ottawa County. The first step is a clear and readily usable mapping system to locate areas within the county. Maps are available on a scale of one inch equals 400 feet for rural areas and one inch equals 100 feet in incorporated towns. The photography for these maps was taken in 1986. Maps can be viewed in the appraiser’s office from 8-5 Monday through Friday. Copies of these maps can be purchased.
Real estate parcels are visited once every six years with information being verified by measurements and interviews with the homeowners. If no one is home, a card is left asking the homeowner to supply the information by mail. Personal property owners are sent a rendition each year showing what the appraiser has listed for them. If they sold or made any additions, they are asked to note these changes and return the rendition to the appraiser’s office by March 15. A penalty is added on all renditions not returned by this date. If a rendition is ignored and not paid, the penalty could eventually add up to the value of the property. A rendition is a statement that describes each item of personal property owned by the person named on the statement.
All real estate parcels are viewed each year and a new value established. The new values are sent to owners around the first of April. If a property owner feels the value is incorrect or has questions, they have 30 days to appeal the value. There are two other times in the year when values may be appealed. They are when first half taxes or second half taxes are paid. This gives the property owner three time frames to appeal their value. While there are three time frames, they may appeal the value once in a tax year. Items a property owner may want to consider in their decision to file an appeal are: is the property worth its appraised value, is it equitable with similar properties; and does the property suffer from a defect that would not be observed from the outside. If the answer to these questions is no, then a property owner should consider filing an appeal. The best chance to be successful with an appeal is to come to the appraiser’s office prepared with all known information, receipts of repair, and pictures. Those who feel the value is too high, can obtain a list of houses that have sold recently prior to their appeal to support that appeal. The appraiser’s office is only interested in having a value that would be consistent with the sale price of property if it sold, not in the highest value possible. The Department of Revenue evaluates the work done by the appraiser’s office on a yearly basis. One standard of measuring the quality of work is the sales ration study which compares each valid sale’s appraised value with the actual sale price. Being overvalued penalizes a homeowner as much as being undervalued.
Truette McQueen is the Ottawa County Appraiser, Diane McKain is the deputy appraiser, Sharolyn Boyer is the Personal Property Clerk and Shirley Allison is the Real Estate Clerk. The most important thing to remember when needing to get information from their office is to ask questions. The county employees working in that office are there to help and are willing to answer all your questions.
The office is closed from noon to 1 p.m.. Their number is 785-392-3037 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.