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Dorene Greiwe, Assessor
County Government 101 is a recurring column written by former Decatur County Assessor, Tami Wenning about issues affecting your county government.
Please remember that Personal Property is a self-assessment. If you have property that you use while involved in a money-making scenario, that equipment should be taxed. If you need help in determining the value of your property, we can help you. The important thing to remember is to be fair to yourself and everyone else when reporting your property. IF everyone reported what they were supposed to report, we’d have a higher assessed value as a community and our tax rates would be lower. If everyone was fair and honest about it, we’d all get to pay a little less. It’s kind of like when people cheat their insurance companies and make claims on things that they shouldn’t….those kinds of claims make everyone’s rates go up. Our community has to raise a certain amount of money to meet the budget requirements of all of the government offices and their services. Believe it or not, your county government is very frugal and does look at each office’s budget requests very closely. We’re all pinching pennies so we don’t run out of money before the end of the year. So, when our office determines the assessed value of the personal property AND all of the real (land and things built upon the land…aka “improvements”) property, it is our responsibility to report the overall assessed value (AV) of all property in Decatur County to the Auditors office. The Auditors office then takes off all of the deductions, exemptions and abatement amounts to see how much AV is left. The remaining amount of taxable value is what is used to determine what our tax rates will be. The more assessed value there is, the lower the tax rate can be. Overall, enough money has to be generated to cover the budget estimates.
Somehow, I think I’m the unofficial tour guide for the courthouse. When some of the local schools decide to bring students here, they usually call and ask if I can give the “tour”. There are a couple of points I always try to make. One is that this courthouse exists to serve the people of Decatur County. We are supposed to be here to help you and overall, this courthouse is responsible for maintaining a record of all of the important decisions made in this community. The buying and selling of land, court decisions, the assessment of property and the collection of taxes so that your government can continue to function are just a few of the responsibilities we have. We work for you and we work for ourselves. We pay taxes too. I take it personally when someone doesn’t get the help they need in this building. So, I always tell my young “tourists” that we work for them and their parents and I explain what each office does. I also advise them to always wear their seat belts and to not get tickets, but if they do…pay the darn thing on time because it is a heck of a mess to clean up if it gets beyond the county level. So, you’ve just got my best advice in a nutshell. But, seriously, if you need help, it might not be something our office can do for you but we can at least guide you in the right direction. Don’t be bashful about asking for help. I’m usually confused, too! Have a great week and don’t forget those personal property forms.
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