Cedar Rapids residential property values 'flat'; commercial property up 8.5 percent

Notices sent to owners of properties with changed valuations

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The value of residential property in the city is "stable" and "flat," and overall, its value has increased just one-half of 1 percent, City Assessor Scott Labus said Thursday.

At the same time, the overall value of commercial property in the city — which hadn’t had a total review for 10 years — went up 8.5 percent, Labus added.

Labus and assessors statewide have notified property owners in recent days of any changes in valuation, which will be used to help determine property taxes in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

Only Cedar Rapids property owners who have seen a change in valuation have received a letter from Labus’ office.

He said on Thursday that 42 percent of residential property owners in Cedar Rapids saw no change in property value, 33 percent saw a decrease in value and 25 percent an increase in value.

On the commercial side, 35 percent of owners saw a value decrease, 55 percent an increase, and 10 percent saw no change.

In 2014, Labus said his office will conduct annual on-site reviews of one-sixth of the city’s commercial properties, as it now does for residential properties, so property owners aren’t confronted with a spike in valuation, as can be the case with an on-site review once every 10 years.

He said the overall increase of 8.5 percent in commercial values amount to about a 5.5 percent to 6 percent increase in values on existing commercial properties, with the remainder of the increase coming from new construction. He added that the reductions in value of downtown property because of the 2008 flood has now be erased.

"We think that stigma is gone now," Labus said. "We've seen a little increase in sale prices and rents." He said he was hopeful the trend will continue.

In 2014, the City Assessor’s Office will do on-site reviews of tax-exempt properties such as churches and hospitals and, in 2015, will do the same with industrial properties.

Labus said agricultural land and outbuildings saw an overall increase of 43 percent in value based on the state of Iowa’s formula that it tied to farm production. However, he noted that state law does not allow the value of particular classes of property to increase by more than 4 percent a year, and so the Department of Revenue will apply its "rollback" calculation to agricultural property next fall. The rollback reduces the amount of property value subject to property tax.

In Cedar Rapids, property owners have two opportunities to appeal their new valuations.

Call or email by 5 p.m. April 2 to schedule an informal hearing with an appraiser in the Assessor’s Office, 1211 Sixth St. SW. The phone number is 286-5888; the email address, crassessor@cedar-rapids.org.

Property owners also may appeal to the Cedar Rapids Board of Review between April 16 and May 6. The appeal forms can be picked up at the Assessor’s Office or downloaded from the Iowa Department of Revenue at http://www.iowa.gov/tax/forms/56064.pdf.

The Board of Review will convene on May 1 and conduct hearings up to July 15 if necessary.

Taken together, the overall value of residential property value in Cedar Rapids is $6.223 billion, up from $6.2 billion; the overall value of commercial property in Cedar Rapids is $2.269 billion, up from $2.091 billion; and taken together, the value is $8.492 billion, up from $8.292 billion, or a 2.4 percent overall increase in residential and commercial value.

However, Labus noted that the new values will change a bit during the upcoming appeal process.

He also pointed out that the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad continue to look at ways to reduce property taxes paid by commercial and industrial property owners. Any reductions will affect the valuations on commercial and industrial property, he said.

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