It's back to basics for the staff of the Douglas County appraiser's office as they review the factors that determine property value.
"It's not basically starting from scratch, it's just taking the information there, reviewing it, and looking at it in a different way," said Marion Johnson, now in his third week as county appraiser.
Johnson presented the county's plan to answer an audit by the state's Division of Property Valuation to the county commission Monday. The commission approved the plan, and the reply will be mailed to the state Wednesday. Johnson said he does not know how long it will take the state to respond to the county's plan.
The plan's purpose is to provide the county with current, accurate and defendable property values, to comply with state law on property valuation and to conform with state law by determining the a fair market value by applying accepted appraisal theory and principles, according to the county's response.
PART OF THE work that the audit has created for the staff is developing a sales verification program for property sold since Jan. 1, 1990. This program helps the county build an adequate sales base for property valuation purposes. The county started working on this program during the audit.
Johnson said the staff is fine-tuning some procedures in response to the audit. These tasks include:
A review of neighborhoods and land values because "they're the foundation of both the cost approach and the market approach. So they have to be right. We're going to take a long look at those . . . there's going to be some changes made to them."
Map maintenance. This task includes a full edit of current maps and the notation of any property splits or combinations, which occur when a landowner sells or buys land adjoining his or her property.
The cost index and depreciation study. Builders annually supply new home construction cost figures to the county as part of the valuation process.
A reinspection of physical data, such as measurements, on properties in which the auditors found errors.
TO CHART THE staff's progress in answering the audit, which must be completed by Jan. 1, 1993, the office is using a schedule that denotes what percentage of the work should be done on a monthly basis.
Johnson also will use quality control checks to ensure accuracy in the staff's work. For example, senior appraisers will work behind the crews who are reinspecting the physical data to double-check the information.
Additional staff training and enhanced public relations are two other major components in the audit response. Johnson said his staff would receive additional training from the PVD, and he would like to cross-train some employees in the office.
From a public relations standpoint, Johnson said he wanted to address as many civic and professional groups as possible in the next year. He said public knowledge of the appraisal process was important.
"It's a matter of trying to keep our fairly high profile so people know where we're at, and hopefully we can build some confidence in what we're doing," he said.