Letter to the Editor: In response to Mr. Hall’s letter

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To the Editor:

In response to Mr. Clyde Hall’s letter to the Editor on June 23, 2022, I want to first note that the Daily Reporter article Mr. Hall referenced regarding the current assessment increases was extremely informative and accurate regarding local assessment systems when read in its entirety and not taken out of context. That being said, I want to reiterate that my office exclusively deals in assessment value. The Assessor’s Office does not have any say in the tax rates or legislated constitutional tax caps. The tax rates that will be applied to the 2022pay2023 assessment values, or next year’s tax bills, have not been released yet. The tax rates are calculated based on local county budget needs. Considering property assessments went up significantly, barring no significant budget increases, as a Hancock County taxpayer I am expecting tax rates to go down. Assessment increases do not automatically mean tax increases. Local government has a budget. Tax rates are set to garner revenue to fund that budget. I am not a tax rate/budget expert (I am an assessment expert), nor do I have knowledge of the Hancock County budget beyond my own office budget. I do know that the 2023 budget has not yet been created because I have not formally made a 2023 budget request on behalf of my own office. When I do, I am maintaining the same 2022 budget with the exception of a 5.5% increase in employee salaries as graciously allowed by the local County Council.

Regarding Mr. Hall’s claim that my office is not doing all it can to keep assessments low, I am first bound by the principles of fairness and equitability while also valuing property per its “use.” If a property is being used for commercial purpose, it is assessed as such. If a property is being used as a farm then, subsequently, it is assessed as such. If a property is purely residential, then it is assessed as such, and so on and so forth. I do not have the power to arbitrarily change assessments. I like to use the phrase “I am a bona fide paper pusher” because the truth is that I have strict laws and state guidelines I follow to value property. I take those laws and guidelines very seriously. Any changes made to a property would have been done so with the adhering intention of reflecting the true and accurate property characteristics in an effort to equitably value the property to reflect the current market, as directed by Indiana law.

Hancock County is my home. This community is where I chose to raise my family. I have a long history of giving back to this community in my free time. I view my role as your Hancock County Assessor as another way I can give of my time and talents to the local community. I am truly doing my best to follow Indiana laws and guidelines while making things fair for every Hancock County taxpayer. I do not “control” assessments. I use sales data, property information and generally accepted appraisal principles to guide assessment values to reflect Indiana State mandated “market value-in-use.” My door is always open to anyone with any questions or concerns. I would be pleased to welcome you into my office to discuss any assessment matter further.

Katie Molinder

Hancock County Assessor