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Area property owners request lower valuations

WORTHINGTON -- The average valuation for residential property in Nobles County rose 9.21 percent, while agricultural land noted an 11.91 percent increase for 2008, according to Byron Swart, Nobles County Assessor.

Swart appeared before the Nobles County Board of Appeal and Equalization Monday morning to present information on property valuations and to provide additional information on requests from nine property owners that the valuation be lowered on their residence.

"Nationally, values are going down, but in Worthington, we have not seen that," Swart said. "If anything, we're leveling off."

Those asking for a lower valuation and the decision of the board are as follows:

* Loren Klingenberg of Worthington said the valuation on his home increased by 13 percent, raising taxes to the point that it is difficult for retired individuals who only received a 2 percent increase in income. Klingenberg's property value rose from $68,000 in 2007 to $76,800 in 2008.

David Van Loh said the increase in value was based on sales in the neighborhood between Oct. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2007, which is the period used in recalculating valuations. He added that sales actually warranted a 20 percent increase, but they kept it down to 13 percent.

The board voted not to change the valuation placed on the Klingenberg property.

* Donald Wiener appeared before the board to complain about the city tax portion on two parcels he owns in Lismore.

"The city taxes are two-thirds of the total," Wiener said. "I think that's too much. I have a home in another city, and the city share is only one-third."

Since there was no request to lower the valuation, the board voted not to make any changes.

* John Dressen asked that the board reconsider the valuation placed on the school building he owns in Bigelow, which is used by the Worthington Area Language Academy.

Dressen said his taxes on the property went from $4,736 in 2007 to $7,398 in 2008. The building has been valued at $200,000 for the past two years.

Swart said reasons for the increase were the recent change in classification from agricultural to commercial and improvements made to the site.

"It's an income-producing property," Swart added.

The property's valuation was not changed by the board.

* James Williams of Worthington requested that the valuation be lowered on a bare lot he owns on Castlewood Drive. The 2007 valuation was $6,000, and the 2008 valuation was increased to $16,000. The city, at its board of equalization meeting, lowered the valuation to $14,000. The county board of equalization reduced the value by another $2,000, to a total of $12,000.

* Kevin Donovan of Worthington requested that the valuation on his home, set at $422,900, be lowered to the same value it was set at following the board of equalization meeting in 2007. Last year, he appeared before the board and received a reduced valuation of $409,200.

With an 11.24 percent increase in valuation for the year, Donovan pointed to newspaper articles relating to the decrease in home prices.

"It should not increase," Donovan said of his valuation. "Homes are not selling in that price range."

No change was granted by the board of commissioners.

* Judy Christians, a resident in Larkin Township, said the valuation on her home increased by more than $13,000 from 2007 to 2008. She asked that the board consider reducing the valuation.

"We have done nothing to improve the home," she said, adding that the home is located near wind turbines and their own hog confinement operation -- factors that could impact a home's value.

"With the price of fuel, I don't think the price of acreages are going to go up," Christians said. "There is no way you're going to buy an acreage without factoring in the price of gas."

With last Friday's real estate advertisement in hand, Christians said, "I can ask $100 for hogs right now, but is that what I'm going to get? I'm going to get about $50."

The board voted not to change the valuation.

* Karen Buus of Adrian asked that the value on her 160-acre parcel be reduced, but because she failed to first appear in person or in writing to the township board of equalization, her request could not be addressed at the county level.

* A letter of request in reduction was presented from Paul Slater of Worthington on a parcel that was valued at $281,000. Because of a grading correction in the valuation, the board lowered the property's valuation to $267,900.

* Shirley and Ray Wieneke of Lismore also wrote a letter requesting the valuation be lowered on their home. The property was valued at $23,000 in 2007 and increased to $67,400 in 2008. The City of Lismore reduced the valuation to $63,000 at its board of equalization meeting.

Swart said property valuations in Lismore increased by an average of 51.4 percent during the one-year period and were based on seven sales during that timeframe.

No further changes were made by the board.

* Bud and Sharon Fritz of Reading asked in writing for reductions in valuations on two separate parcels in the unincorporated town of Reading.

The first parcel went from a valuation of $29,600 in 2007 to $49,200 in 2008. The second parcel increased from $20,800 in 2007 to $33,900 in 2008.

The board voted to leave the 2008 valuations in place.

Swart said there were 254 residential sales recorded in Nobles County from Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2007. Of those sales, the county was at an 84.7 percent ratio, meaning property valuations were at 84.7 percent of the sale price.

Of the 41 agricultural land sales during the same time period, the ratio amounted to 87.7 percent; while the 13 sales of commercial and industrial property came in at a 69.2 percent ratio.

The State of Minnesota requires county valuations be set at 90 percent to 105 percent of their sale value. Swart said if the county doesn't make the adjustment, the state will.

Among the orders issued by the state this year are that the residential buildings in the City of Bigelow receive an across-the-board increase of 5 percent; the unincorporated area of Leota receive a 15 percent decrease in residential buildings; and that Adrian receive a 5 percent decrease on residential building value.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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