Kandiyohi County might take over property assessments county wide

Presently, more than 4,400 parcels are assessed by a local assessor, not the county. That could change moving forward.

Kandiyohi County countryside
The Kandiyohi County Assessor's Office may soon take over the assessing duties for all property in Kandiyohi County, removing the need for local assessors.
Briana Sanchez / West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — There are 29,292 land parcels in Kandiyohi County, and every five years each one is assessed for property value and tax purposes. The County Assessor's Office , headed by County Assessor Val Svor, currently views and assesses 24,888 of these parcels, spread out over 29 districts. Another seven districts with 4,404 parcels are assessed on a contract by other local assessors.

At the May 2 meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board , Svor spoke about the True County assessing system. It is a change that Svor has advocated for several years, having previously worked with former County Administrator Larry Kleindl on the possibility.

"Going True County would mean we would be doing the assessments for the entire county," eliminating the need for local assessors, Svor said. "It would give us a higher-quality assessment, more consistency."

With the local assessing system in place now, most of the county's townships and cities already have contracts with the county for assessing services. The county charges them a per-parcel fee for county staff to complete all of the assessing work.

"This year it was about $409,000 in income," Svor said.


There are seven districts — Arctander, Gennessee, Holland, Irving, Lake Elizabeth, Lake Andrew and Roseland townships — that instead have contracts with local assessors. The assessor in those cases views the property, takes down the data needed to complete the assessment and then turns their notes over to the County Assessor's Office.

The county staff also do a lot of the legwork before the local assessor visits a site and afterward, as they review the completed field sheets for completeness and accuracy. Assessing staff then have to enter all the data from the local assessor, which can be difficult since the county staff never actually viewed the property themselves, Svor said.

"There is always the potential for difficulties, errors or interpretation issues," Svor said.

Svor said there is a misconception by some who support having local assessors that those individuals actually set the property's values. That isn't so. The local assessors make recommendations, but at the end of the day, Svor makes the final call.

"I do set the values," Svor said.

Taking over all the assessing duties across the county will also mean fewer people that property owners themselves may need to contact if they have questions or concerns regarding their assessment.

"Our staff would be the people knocking on the doors," Svor said. "It would be an opportunity for us to give better customer service to our taxpayers."

There is the possibility that the county will be picking up a large portion of the local assessed parcels in the near future anyway. One of the assessors contracted by some of the townships is set to retire. Finding assessors can be a challenge, so those townships might have to turn to the county if they can't find a replacement.


Overall, Svor believes going the True County direction will create an Assessor's Office that is more efficient, consistent and better run for both staff and taxpayers.

"Our staff is excited to go True County," Svor said. "They feel it will be a lot easier and less overlap on their time."

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The only negative Svor could see is that the county tax levy would need to increase about $420,000 due to the increased workload. However, the city and township levies that currently include a budget to either pay the county or pay a local assessor should be reduced, Svor said.

The County Board presentation was just for information, to introduce the commissioners to the idea of putting a True County assessing system in place. County Administrator Kelsey Baker said the board will need to decide whether to go forward with the idea by June, since she and staff will begin creating next year's budget in July. A resolution to adopt the system is on the May 16 meeting agenda.

If the county does move in this direction, it will join 36 other Minnesota counties who use True County assessing. There are another 15 counties that never passed an official resolution but still do all the assessing. The remaining 36 counties still use local assessors.

"It looks like something we should be going towards, and you have been wanting to go in this direction for a while," said Commissioner Corky Berg to Svor.

Based on the board comments, the commissioners seem to be leaning toward supporting the measure.

"There seems to be a good argument, that we have consistency across all jurisdictions," said Commissioner Roger Imdieke.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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