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Couple offers equalization hearing appeal advice
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Couple offers equalization hearing appeal advice

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Jeffrey and Marcia Spilker took a couple weeks to prepare for their property assessment appeal.

“We had to do a lot of research and we didn’t have any idea of what we were dealing with,” Marcia said. “I called a local realtor that told us the lot, and she actually gave us some pointers and helped us through some of that.”

The Spilkers appealed their property assessment at the April 23 Board of Equalization appeal hearing. The board voted to lower their property assessment from $789,500 to $638,500.

The couple was hoping for $570,000 for their three-acre lot and ranch-style home between Rapid City and Hill City.

“It’s more than we paid and more than we invested,” Marcia said. 

The appeal process begins when property owners receive their assessments around the beginning of March.

Property owners contact the county Department of Equalization before the deadline for the notice of appeal and make an appointment with staff appraisers to inspect the property. Any error in the data is corrected. If the assessment is incorrect, the staff will recommend a change to the board of equalization. If the board doesn’t agree with the change, the property owner will be notified and an appeal will be scheduled.

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Property owners can appeal a property assessment to their municipality or to the county board. The county board will see the municipality’s recommendation, staff appraiser’s recommendation, and that of the property owner, if they show up in person.

“There’s almost nobody that we don’t get to sit down with and talk to,” said equalization director Shannon Rittberger. 

Rittberger said his office will work with the property owner on their complaint and review all the information. He said everything that’s said during an appeal has already been communicated to the owner, but it’s at the point where the board needs to make a decision.

During a county appeal, a staff appraiser will present the property to the board and show relevant pictures of the property. They will also go over about five comparable properties to the one being appealed and discuss a recommended assessment value.

The property owner, if they indicate to staff that they’ll attend the meeting in person, will be able to make their own case and their own recommendation for an assessment value.

Jeffrey Spilker said he and his wife watched videos of the previous appeal meetings, which helped them prepare. 

After discussion, the board will make a motion and vote. If approved, that’s the new property assessment value. If it’s not approved, they discuss further and make more motions until a majority vote is made.

Property owners who are still unhappy with the assessment value can pursue further appeals by appealing to the circuit court or to the Office of Hearing Examiners in Pierre. An appeal to the circuit court would prevent an appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners, but if a property owner is not satisfied with the Office of Hearing Examiners’ determination, it could be taken to the circuit court.

For 2021, property owners hoping to appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners had to submit a notice of appeal in writing by May 21 while a circuit court notice of appeal needs to be made within 30 days of publication of the decision from the County Board of Equalization.

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at siandhara.bonnet@rapidcityjournal.com

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