County tax assessment roll continues to decline but more moderately

Merced County Assessor Kent Christensen released the Property Assessment roll for 2011-2012, which reflects a -.25 percent decline in assessed values.

The Assessor's Office reviewed every residential property in the county, as well as other properties, including commercial, agricultural and industrial. The review resulted in the lowering of more than 42,000 properties to their current market value as of Jan. 1, 2011. The 2011-2012 gross local roll totaled $16.38 billion, a $42 million decline from the previous fiscal year.

"The small decline in value shows some recovery to the local housing market, but we are still experiencing a downward trend in commercial/industrial properties," Christensen said in a news release. "Proposition 13 limits the assessment value increase in any year to 2 percent%, but this year is unique in that the adjustment is only .753 percent, so most property owners will see a slight increase in assessed valuation this year."

He said his office had reviewed every residential property in the county to ensure that county residents and taxpayers were given the most accurate adjustments to their property tax assessments, according to the news release.

Merced County relies on federal, state and local resources to provide vital and essential services for its residents. Local resources, like property taxes, are based on assessed property values.

The roll accurately reflects the assessed values of some 85,551 taxable real properties and 8,060 unsecured assessments within the County."This year, as in the past two, approximately half of the properties in Merced County have a reduced value," Christensen said in the news release.

This year, new legislation allowed assessors to post values on the website instead of mailing letters to property owners who had a change other than the CPI increase. This past spring the board of supervisors approved the assessor’s request by ordinance to allow the change.

Residents who need help or have questions with their assessments are encouraged to come to the assessor's office, located on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 2222 M Street in Merced. Assessment information is available online at www.co.merced.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=59.

If you don’t have access to a computer, you may obtain information about the current assessed value of your property by calling (209) 385-7583. For any other information the phone number for the assessor's office is (209) 385-7631.

Christensen recently began his second four-year term as assessor. He is a 33-year veteran of the department.

For more information about Merced County, visit the website at www.co.merced.ca.us.--Sun-Star Staff