Marcia D. M. Smith, MMAO, MCPPE
|Thomas J. Agrusa, MAAO, MCPPE
What We Do:
The Assessing Department has the responsibility of preparing the Assessment Rolls and Tax Rolls of the City for all classes of property subject to taxation. Appraising and otherwise determining the true cash value of all such properties in the City carries out this responsibility. The state constitution and statutes require that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the assessed values placed upon the assessment roll shall be at fifty percent (50%) of true cash value, and shall be determined by appraisers who are certified by the State Tax Commission. The Assessing Department’s responsibilities provide the primary source of all General Fund revenues, which are local property taxes. In Fiscal Year 2012/2013, the Tax Rolls, including Special Assessments and Administration Fees, totaled more than $95,000,000 in City operating revenues and more than $208,000,000 in total levies for the City, County, State Education and School taxes.
Assessing personnel are statutorily required to be certified by the State Tax Commission at varying levels of expertise for each of the different duties required by law within the Department. All certified personnel must meet annual continuing education requirements, and must pay annual fees to maintain their certifications. Though the City is required by law to provide and to fund the Assessing Department, the State Tax Commission maintains all regulatory authority over the responsibilities and compliance of the Assessing Department’s employees and their functions. The City currently funds 1 Michigan Master Assessing Officer (MMAO), 7 Michigan Advanced Assessing Officers (MAAO), 2 Michigan Certified Assessing Officers (MCAO), 1 Michigan Certified Assessing Technician (MCAT), and 2 temporary clerical employees. Of the 11 certified employees, 8 also hold the Michigan Certified Personal Property Examiner (MCPPE) designation. The MCPPE certification allows the City to perform personal property audits of businesses within the City. During the past year, our audits discovered $9,000,000 in omitted personal property taxable value, which generated an additional $250,800 in City operating tax revenues.
All property owners have the right to appeal the assessed values and property taxes as determined by the Assessing Department. Appeals are heard by the Board of Review, the Michigan Tax Tribunal and the State Tax Commission. The Assessing Department defends all appeals on behalf of the City and of the Board of Review. In the past year, the Assessing Department processed more than 1,200 Board of Review appeals, settled 940 Michigan Tax Tribunal appeals and 70 State Tax Commission appeals, which reduced the pending appeal case load by 73% and saved the City more than $700,000 in potential tax refunds.
The Assessing Department also serves as the primary source of property information in the City by maintaining the most current data for more than 61,000 parcels, consisting of approximately 58,000 real and 4,000 personal property parcels. These include Ad Valorem, Industrial Facility Tax (IFT), Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA), Tax Increment Financing Authority (TIFA), Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Brownfield Authority and Renaissance Zone properties. The Assessing Department property information database is available to the public via internet access, and is the information backbone supporting the databases of the City’s Treasury, Planning, Building, Water, Rental, and Property Maintenance Departments. Without the Assessing Department’s perpetual diligence in keeping this information current, the integrity of the data relied on by all of these other departments would be compromised.