Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2005

Property values up in county

March 3, 2005

Unless interest rates start spiraling upward, Donna Graf fully expects the value of properties in Leavenworth County to continue to rise.

For the past several years - fueled by low interest rates and an influx of new residents from the Kansas City metropolitan area - property valuations in Leavenworth County have steadily increased.

And this year is no exception.

On Monday, Graf, who is Leavenworth County appraiser, mailed out change-of-value notices to county property owners. As property owners open those notices, they will see:

¢ An average increase in residential property valuation of 10.1 percent from 2004.

¢ An average increase in commercial property valuation of 9 percent.

¢ An overall average increase of 10.5 percent.

"We've just had a lot of sales," Graf said.

And it's the type of sales that have been prevalent in the county that also have played a role. Many large tracts of farm ground that have been sold will be transformed into commercial or residential developments.

"That creates a lot of valuation difference," Graf said. "We have a lot of new home starts, a lot of new home sales, especially (in Tonganoxie).

"It never ceases to amaze us what things sell for. And you have a lot of Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas county residents coming this way."

And while a large number of metro residents are discovering the conveniently country atmosphere of Leavenworth County, low interest rates are fueling their rapid movement.

"That's a big key," Graf said. "If interest rates start rising, you won't be seeing the sales."

While Leavenworth County continues to grow, Graf does worry about retirees who aren't interested in selling their property but who still are paying increased taxes because of higher valuations, year after year.

"It's a problem, it is," she said. "It's probably worth more, but you're not interested in selling right now."

Last year, property values increased about 9 percent from 2003. And in 2003, property in the county increased in value by nearly 13 percent from 2002. The year before that, the increase was 9 percent.

The new values will be used to calculate 2005 property taxes, based on the mill levies set by the county, cities and school districts. The 2005 tax statements will be mailed in November, with the first half of the taxes due on Dec. 20.

Any property owner who wants to appeal their 2005 valuation has until 5 p.m. March 30 to request an appeal, Graf said. Informal hearings may be conducted in person or over the telephone.

Anyone choosing a telephone hearing should provide information before the hearing to the Appraiser's Office that they want considered in the appeal.

And it's important that property owners cancel their hearing if they're unable to keep the appointment.

If property owners do not file an appeal at this time, they have another opportunity later this year, when tax statements are sent.

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