With the advent of property tax caps in Indiana, county and the remaining township assessors are being required to perform more work in determining the current tax cap.

The Indiana Legislature set property caps at 1 percent for residential properties, 2 percent for agricultural and rental properties and 3 percent for businesses.

Assessed value is used to determine individual property tax bills and can change on an annual basis depending on property sales in a particular area.

Howard County Assessor Jamie Shepherd explained every parcel had to be looked at to determine the proper tax cap, and most properties have more than one of the tax caps.

She said the residential 1 percent tax cap applies to a house, attached garage and up to 1 acre of property. Swimming pools and out-buildings fall under the 3 percent cap. Shepherd said any property above the 1 acre is considered residential excess and is taxed at 3 percent.

An example would be a 5-acre tract with a house and pole barn that includes 4 acres being farmed. The property falls under the 2 percent cap, the house is taxed at 1 percent, and an additional half-acre and the barn are considered part of the 3 percent tax cap.

Shepherd said her office receives copies of all building permits for new construction, additions to a property and demolition.

“We are also now required to do a site inspection within 60 days of the sale of a home,” she said. “We need to make sure the home has not decreased or increased in assessed value.”

Since 2008 when all but the Center Township assessor’s position was eliminated in Howard County, the county office has been responsible for the assessment of all personal property, business tangibles and mobile homes in addition to the assessment work on all real property.

“The data input was already done,” Shepherd said. “We have to equalize all the assessments from the townships.”

Shepherd said trending for the establishment of property tax assessments is being done on an annual basis.

She said the last reassessment took place in 2002 and the next is scheduled for 2012.

“We are doing an annual reassessment of 25 percent of the county every year,” Shepherd said. “We will have saved $250,000 over the next four to six years and it helps with the trending.”

The yearly reassessment work includes a site visit, which involves measuring all structures and noting any demolition that has taken place in the past year.

“The annual trending establishes the new fair-market value,” Shepherd said. “It is an annual extra burden on the office. It provides a more accurate assessed value on an annual basis.”

The assessment of a portion of the county on an annual basis will prevent lag time in 2012 when the next general reassessment is scheduled to be completed.

Shepherd said even with the increased responsibilities in her office, there has been no staffing increases. She said the office has the same number of full-time and part-time employees as there was in 2008.

• Ken de la Bastide is the Kokomo Tribune enterprise editor. He can be reached at 765-454-8580 or via e-mail at ken.delabastide@kokomotribune.com

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