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Multi-residential properties across Scott County will increase 21% in value after the state issued an equalization order, the county assessor said.

Assessor Tom McManus said Wednesday that the "very hefty" increase will impact 325 properties and boost multi-residential assessments by a total of $152 million across the county.

"It impacts all properties in Scott County, outside Davenport, that are classified as multi-residential," he said, adding that includes apartment buildings, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and manufactured home parks.

The city of Davenport, which handles its own assessments, did not receive an equalization order on its multi-residential properties or any other property class.

McManus said he is fighting the adjustment "because it is not warranted or justified." He has formally protested to the Department of Revenue. Kraig Paulsen, the department's director, has until Nov. 3 to make a ruling and can adjust the equalization, remove it completely or deny it.

"This is how the Department of Revenue creates and maintains equitable assessments in properties across the state," McManus said of the equalization process.

He said the department claims the increase is necessary to bring the county's 2019 assessed values to fair market value. 

The department equalizes assessments across an entire property class and jurisdiction and not on a statewide basis.

"They don't break it down by different cities (as the county does)," he said. "They blanket the whole county and everyone gets the same equalization."

The order comes on the heels of the Scott County assessor raising multi-residential property values last spring across the county.

The biggest "pill to swallow" will be for multi-residential properties in Eldridge, where values already were raised by about 20%, McManus said. With the county's adjustment and the equalization, these property values will increase 41% over 2018 values.

The state department equalizes assessments every two years, in odd years, to bring properties to fair market value.

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According to its website, the department compares the assessors' abstracts to a “sales assessment ratio study” it completes independently of the assessors. If the assessment (by property class) is 5% or more above or below the sales ratio study, the department will increase or decrease the assessment.

The new values will impact the Jan. 1, 2019, assessed values and go into effect next September.

All Scott County property owners impacted by the change were notified by mail earlier this month.

"It's very likely going to mean a property tax increase on these properties, however, with the changing rollbacks coming it likely won't be the full 21 percent," McManus said. "But it could be a high increase in property taxes."

David Farmer, Scott County budget and administrative services director, also said it is too early to know what the equalization will mean to a single multi-residential property.

"It is going to add growth to the tax base, but we don't really know what this is now," he said. In part, because the state rollback will be applied to the assessed value.

In addition to the county's protest, McManus said individual property owners can challenge the equalized assessments. "If they truly feel the new value does not reflect the current market value — what they could sell it for today — they should immediately protest to the local Board of Review," he said. 

Multi-residential property owners can protest the newly equalized assessments until Oct. 31, and the Board of Review will hear protests through early November. No other protests can be filed at this time.

To protest, view the subject property on the County Assessor’s Parcel Query website at scottcountyiowa.com/parcels. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Assessment Appeal link, or contact the County Assessor’s Office at 563-326-8635 for other options.

"If you're going to protest, you have to prove the current market value to the Board of Review," he said, adding "You have to prove that due to the increase your property value is now greater than the current market value."

Scott County was one of six Iowa counties where the state issued an equalization order on multi-residential properties. The increases ranged from a low of 9 percent in Johnson County to a high of 24 percent in Delaware County. No other classes of properties were issued an equalization order in Scott County.

The last time the state issued an equalization order in Scott County was 2015 when it ordered a 7 percent increase of its commercial property values. That was the same year the state put multi-residential properties into a separate class from commercial properties.

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