The State Tax Commission is urging property assessors to physically inspect 20 percent of properties in their local unit annually, reported Township Supervisor Harley Rider during the Feb. 17 Dexter Township board meeting.
Historically, the township’s assessor Chris Renius inspects only new construction, sales, demolitions and property splits. Township board members are deciding how they want to handle this new recommendation before it becomes a state mandate.
As Rider presented members with two separate draft contracts calling for the services from Renius, board members grappled with whether the recommended five-year plan ought to have naturally been part of Renius’s required duties.
Clerk Deb Ceo expressed concern the township “dropped the ball again” by focusing only on new construction and sale s— the same pattern which caused a slew of antiquated property records discovered during a state audit in 2007. As a result of the audit, state officials issued the township an ultimatum offering to conduct their own township-wide assessment — for which the township would receive a substantial bill—or the township conduct one themselves. The township chose the latter, hiring Landmark Appraisals for $110,000. Landmark found some properties were over-assessed but most were under-assessed, said Rider during a later interview.
“So that’s precisely why the state came out last year [with this recommendation],” said Rider to Ceo’s concern. “To prevent properties from going decades without physical inspection.”
Rider assured questioning members that property owners assessed during the beginning of the five-year cycle versus the end will be subject to the same formula used to calculate taxable value. They’ll go up by the same percentage, said Rider, because the annual assessment is largely based on classification and not physical inspection.
With Renius’s two-year contract expiring March 31, members considered two proposed contracts. The first is a five-year renewal of Renius’s traditional assessor services (requiring his presence in the township office no less than 48 days per year) for which he will be paid $3,400 per month the first two years, $3,500 per month the third and fourth years, and $3,600 per month the fifth year. The second is a five-year contract requiring Renius to fulfill the state-recommended five-year
reassessment cycle for which he’d receive an additional $1,810 per month for five years beginning this May. Based on the two proposed contracts, Renius would receive $317,400 in total compensation over the next five years, or $63,480 annually.
Trustee Jason Maciejewski said he supports a five-year contract, as opposed to previous two-year contracts, with one assessor. “I like the idea of the same set of eyes with the same perspective over a five-year cycle,” he commented.
In fact, members were inclined to lump both Renius’s current services and state-recommended services into one contract, but will wait until next month to decide after investigating neighboring municipalities’ preferred method.
Dexter Township is currently home to a total of 3,620 parcels: 3,398 residential, 152 agricultural, 54 commercial, and 16 industrial. Each year, Renius would assess roughly 700 properties within the same basic classification and area, indicated Rider.
In other news, members voted to appoint Dexter Township newcomer Beth Filip to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Filip, a patent attorney from New Hampshire, will serve the remainder of Jamie Hodges’ term, expiring Dec. 31, 2016, due to Hodges moving out of county.
James Cormier was reappointed to a three-year term as alternate member of the ZBA, and Janis Miller was appointed to serve the remainder of Steve Burch’s term as ZBA alternate expiring December 2016. (Burch now sits on the township Planning Commission.)
Board members relinquished the township’s rights to Bell Road Bridge after learning another municipality is interested in relocating and rehabilitating it for pedestrian use along the Border-to-Border trail.
The bridge, built in 1881, has sat on Bell Road east side of Huron River since 1992 when it was struck by a vehicle. Because the bridge was originally part of the township’s road infrastructure, the township was offered first right of refusal by the road commission.
The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is reportedly the third oldest bridge built by Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. “Let ‘em have it,” agreed board members, citing the significant cost of rehabilitation.
Rider signed a purchase agreement for property at Multilakes Water & Sewer Authority on which to build the new fire substation during a special meeting February 9. Rider anticipates the MLSWA board will approve the deed March 5.