Legislator David Sieck Questions 'Low' Assessment On His Home

State Rep. David Sieck

It isn’t every day that the Mills County Board of Review hears from a property owner who’s concerned his house may have been assessed too low. But, that’s what happened last Wednesday.

The property owner, State Representative David Sieck, came to the board to question why the house he and his wife purchased last year in Glenwood’s Hickory Ridge subdivision for $489,000 has been assessed at $444,862, approximately 10 percent lower than the purchase price.

Sieck received his assessment notice at the same time last month that hundreds of Mills County residents learned the valuation on their homes had been raised by a substantial margin. When word got out that Sieck’s home was assessed about 10 percent lower than what he had paid for it, emails to the state legislator and comments on social media surfaced.

“I had a lot of constituents reach out to me with questions,” Sieck said. “These were questions I couldn’t answer.

“I doubt that you have very many people coming in and saying, ‘I’m willing to pay it – just to make it fair.’ I’m asking for an answer. Why was that done? Because I’ve been questioned by my constituents and I’ve questioned it myself.”

Sieck told the board his assessment brings attention to problems with the way property taxes are assessed in Iowa. He said he expects the issue to be addressed in next year’s session of the legislature.

The Iowa Code requires property to be assessed at 100 percent of market value, applied to the median sales ratio in a particular taxing district. Sieck said “the assessor’s norm” is to try to get an assessment to fall within 5 percent (high or low) of the market value.  Theoretically, every property in Iowa should be assessed between 95-105% of it s market value but that isn’t happening.

According to the Iowans For Tax Relief Foundation, the most recent sales ratio study (2020) showed 70% of assessing jurisdictions in Iowa maintain property assessments outside the established industry standards for assessment equity or fairness. The inequity means some taxpayers pay more than they otherwise would, while others pay less than they should.

The foundation notes that the Department of Revenue reviews assessment data from each jurisdiction to determine if the statutory requirement of 5% above or below actual value has been met. However, this is based on the median (middle-most value) of the sales ratio for each property class and jurisdiction, not the individual property values. Therefore, when assessments are averaged out as a whole, a county may meet the 5% percent threshold, but some individual properties will be assessed substantially higher or lower than market value.

As for Sieck’s protest of his assessment, the Mills County Board Of Review wasn’t able to provide him with an answer regarding the reasoning for the assessment on his house.

“I can’t give you an answer to your question because that’s not something we do,” board chair Mike Stewart said. “What we do is we hear you tell us why you think it’s wrong and then we decide whether or not we agree with you, agree with the assessor or come to some conclusion in between that we think is fair.”

When asked what he thinks the assessment on his house should be, Sieck indicated he thought it should be at or close to the purchase price.

Sieck is expected to learn the board’s decision on his assessment in the coming weeks.

The Opinion-Tribune

116 S Walnut St Glenwood, IA 51534-1665
P.O. Box 377, Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-527-3191
Phone: 712-623-2566
Fax: 712-527-3193

Comment Here