June 25, 2022

Property evaluation process starts early July

Union County Assessor Mindy Schaefer informed the board of supervisors Monday of the process to reappraise properties throughout Union County. Creston residents should expect to see people and vehicles in residential areas starting in early July.

“We have hired Vanguard to do a residential reevaluation of all our residential properties and ag dwellings,” she said. Vanguard Appraisals is based in Cedar Rapids.

Starting the week of July 4, Vanguard employees will start in Creston. “They always start in the biggest city in the county. They will start going door to door,” she said.

“They will be in Creston for a while,” she said, “a few months before they make it to Afton.” Once a schedule is known for Afton, Schafer will inform Afton officials.

“There will be a link to the photo of the employees going around door to door so people can see their faces. We will notify law enforcement to let them know these cars are gong to be driving through the town.” Law enforcement will be informed of make and model of company vehicles. Schaefer said Vanguard vehicles will be marked. She said it is not the same Vanguard company working on utility lines in the area.

Employees will work during the evening. If there is no answer at the door, contact information will be left at the door for the resident. Schaefer expects some people to avoid the transaction, or not even be aware of what is happening.

“I expect to get phone calls,” she said. “There is always going to be people who don’t feel comfortable people going through their house and that is OK. Your value is gong to change wether you participate or not. Some will go up and some will go down.”

Schaefer said the intent is to get information so everyone is assessed “fairly and equally.” The last time this process was done was the 1980s.

Property owners will be notified via mail by Schaefer, but in phases.

“I’m not going to send them out all at once. This is going to be a 12 to 18 month process. I will start with people in Creston. I will send a letter to all the property owners of residential properties letting them know we are beginning. There will be people knocking on your door,” Residential and ag dwellings will be researched first.

Schaefer encourages people to answer the questions and participate in the project. Not providing information will force Vanguard to estimate the property.

“You have the right to refuse them entry. But doing that it doesn’t stop a reestimate of their property value. It only makes it less precise,” she said.

Vanguard will not be giving estimate on site. They will only be collecting information before values are set. The values will be implemented Jan. 1, 2024.

“Everybody’s house is going to be revalued. Every residential property is going to be revalued,” she said.

“There will be an opportunity later if you don’t agree with the value that is put on your property to come in to either talk to either Vanguard or us about it,” she said.

Property owners will be notified by mail of their new values in early 2024.

“Everything is based on market,” she said. “Consider the current market in 18 months.”

A majority of April will be the formal time for appeals, as is every year.

Schaefer will utilize the county’s text messaging system for the reevaluation, mainly to inform people where Vanguard is working. Schaefer will inform Creston City Council about the plan tonight. Information will also be included on Schaefer’s department on the county’s website. She plans to release additional information on Friday.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.