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Our View: Get whole story on assessments

Whoa there, Facebook commenters. While we are gratified that last week’s Pine Knot story on the county board meeting got huge traffic on Facebook, we are disturbed that all but one of the comments (as of Wednesday) seem to indicate that the people writing them didn’t read the story. That’s unfortunate.

Our story focused on a warning from Carlton County auditor Kyle Holmes that the estimated market value of properties is going up by at least 30 percent for 2023.

That means if your home was worth $150,000 last year, it will be worth close to $195,000 in 2023, according to the county assessor’s office.

“These are increases we haven’t seen in 20 years,” Holmes said.

However, that does not mean that taxes on your property will go up by 30 percent. It just means your home is worth more. And right now, in a smoking hot real estate market, pretty much everyone’s home (and commercial property) is going up in value, across the board.

But think of the proverbial pie. If everyone’s value goes up the same amount, then everyone’s pieces of the pie remain the same size.

In fact, there’s even a chance that people could pay lower taxes next year even with an increased market value … IF their local government entities hold the line on spending. That’s because Enbridge will start paying taxes on its bigger and better Line 3 in 2023, so their piece of the Carlton County tax pie will get substantially bigger, cutting into the rest. Additionally, there’s been record new construction of homes over the past two years, so those will also be contributing new property tax dollars.

Over the next three weeks, yellow forms from the county assessor’s office will be landing in people’s mailboxes across Carlton County, containing the assessed value for taxes payable in 2023. Don’t be surprised if yours is a lot higher.

Holmes told commissioners that property owners who question their estimated market value or classification should first contact the county assessor’s office ASAP. If a property owner is not satisfied with the explanation, they can appeal to the local board of appeal and equalization wherever they live and then possibly the county board of appeal and equalization.

“We would need convincing evidence,” Holmes said, noting that the county has been experiencing three times the normal sales and it’s definitely a seller’s market.

So the sticker shock will be real — “My house is worth what?” — but it really affects only those who are buying property. Again, property owners should not assume it will translate to higher property taxes, Holmes said. Taxes depend on how much the city, county, township, school district, fire district and any other local taxing authorities decide they need to spend, and those budgets usually get set in September and confirmed in December.

The biggest thing folks around here could do to keep property taxes in check for 2023, in our humble opinion? Pass the sales tax for the county’s new justice center.

But that’s a whole other story that people will need to read … and actually think about.