Michelle Laube wants to make it clear that citywide revaluation is a revenue-neutral process and won’t necessarily mean a property owner’s taxes will increase.
It’s one of the pillars of a presentation Laube, the city assessor, will give at Monday’s council meeting to update the public on what the revaluation process means.
An extended version of her presentation is already available on an FAQ page on the city website. The page also contains other related resources and will eventually include a property tax calculator once 2019 property assessments are released.
Janesville has not undergone revaluation since 2011. The process updates market values for residential and commercial properties to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes, Laube said.
When The Gazette reported last month that revaluation could cause citywide assessments could jump by an average of 20 percent, some readers thought their tax bills would also go up by 20 percent.
That’s not necessarily the case.
The assessor’s office will first spend the next several months collecting data on commercial and residential property sales made in 2018.
About 750 transactions have already occurred, and that number could double by the end of the year, Laube said.
The city will use that data to determine an average value change on all properties throughout Janesville. Laube previously told The Gazette she expects that could be a 20 percent increase because of a tight residential real estate market.
This is where tax impact comes in.
If a property’s value increases by the same amount as the citywide average, the owner can expect to pay the same amount in taxes. Properties that were previously undervalued will pay a higher share of taxes, and those that were overvalued will pay less, Laube said.
State law requires assessments to be within 90 percent to 110 percent of market value once every five years. Janesville assessments in 2018 are projected to be about 83 percent of value, and revaluation will try to get that number as close to 100 percent as possible, she said.
There is no penalty for being out of compliance, but if Janesville did not undergo revaluation, the state could do the process and bill the city.
Laube said the city plans to eventually do revaluation every two years.
Property value change notices are expected to come out next summer.
If property owners dispute their assessment changes, they can meet with city staff through an Open Book appointment. If that meeting does not resolve a property owner’s concerns, the person can later attend a Board of Review hearing.