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City accepts slate of property valuation changes

The city of Wadena voted 3-2 to accept a list of property valuation changes from Wadena County after a board of review continuation hearing May 12.

A handful of residents showed up to voice concern over large increases in property valuations. Among them was Dennis Hall, who saw his property on Deerwood Avenue Northwest go from an assessed value of $24,400 in 2008 to a proposed $40,700 in one year.

Hall has a 528-square foot house built in 1920, a detatched garage and four sheds, with less than one acre of land. Hall said he didn't know what the fair value of the property is, but doubted it increased 67 percent in a single year.

Hall found an ally in councilman Toby Pierce, who questioned whether the home would be worth the $15,700 assessors valued it at. Councilman Don Niles also agreed, and made a motion to amend revise Hall's valuation down $5,000. But the motion failed 3-2.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said without an independent evaluation of the property's value, the council shouldn't be picking numbers like $5,000 out of the air.

"I've been through this process 15 times," Wolden said. "I don't have the expertise that the assessor has."

Wolden said it may be a different story if Hall had brought in a private assessment that showed the market value. He said the assessor is supposed to value the property between 90 percent and 105 percent of the marketable value of the property.

"If it's within that band, they're [the assessors are] right. If it's not, they're not right," Wolden said.

Councilwoman Jeanette Baymler agreed.

"If [Hall] comes to the county and he has some better information to present ... it's not like this is the final [say]," she said.

Hall can still appeal his property valuation to Wadena County and get his numbers changed.