Apr 3, 2023 - Real Estate

Polk County is primed for protests on property assessments

Illustration of a house surrounded by angry emojis with dollar sign eyes and tongue

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

A record number of property assessment protests are anticipated this month in response to a record 22% jump in home values, Polk County Assessor Randy Ripperger tells Axios.

Why it matters: Moo-lah-lah. Property assessments are one of the key factors in determining how much owners pay in taxes.

Catch up fast: Iowa properties are reappraised by county assessors in odd-numbers years.

  • This year's assessment notices were mailed to property owners Friday and represent what Ripperger believes is the steepest hike in residential values in the county's history.

State of play: Assessments are based on current market value, which is largely influenced by sales.

  • Metro home prices continue to climb despite a recent downturn in the total number of homes being sold.
  • Most of Polk County's larger populated areas β€” including DSM, Ankeny, WDM, Urbandale and Johnston β€” saw home value gains between 20-24% over the last two years.

Reality check: Your payments are unlikely to increase by 20% or more thanks, in part, to an Iowa law that restricts growth in aggregate taxable value across the state to 3%.

  • The new assessments will first be reflected on tax bills due in Sept. 2024.

By the numbers: Ripperger anticipates his office will get "well over" 10,000 protests.

  • The current record was 9,716 in 2003.

Driving the news: Appeals are heard by a 10-member local board, whose work must be finished by July 15.

  • Protests that haven't been heard by that date are automatically denied and "nobody wants that," Ripperger said.
  • Pending Iowa legislation would allow the county review boards to break into groups as small as three to expedite a hearings process.

βœ‹ Object: Property owners can protest their assessments between April 2 and April 30.


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