A memo from Wright County Assessor Tony Rasmuson to county residents and representatives of cities and townships concerning the schedule for Local Boards of Equalization:
As local governments adjust to protect their citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to providing the service that is expected of us while protecting the health and safety of the citizens and employees alike. Our Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meetings currently scheduled to take place in month of April, are no different. The Department of Revenue (DOR) released a memo on March 18th to answer questions related to how statute affects the choices that districts will need to make on how to proceed with their respective local board meetings. A copy of that memo is included for your reference.
At this time, I am reaching out to you to discuss what options will work best for your district. As noted in the DOR memo, all Local Board Meetings will still need to follow statute including required meeting dates, having a quorum in attendance with at least one trained member and posting/publishing the meeting 10 days in advance. In addition, it is advised that the local board meetings follow all Minnesota Department of Health guidelines in terms of social distancing and limiting attendance to 10 people or less.
Our Notifications of Value and Classification will be mailed on or before March 24th. All Wright County employed appraisers are working remotely from their homes and will be responding to property owners via telephone or email. We have updated our department voicemail to direct property owners to our website with the most current information. Our webpage has been modified to make our department email address easily accessible.
Our current office policy to our employees is that we will not be physically attending meetings or conducting physical reviews of property until further notice. We are dealing with a declared pandemic and need to proactively react to this fact. We are implementing revised expectations and work processes to allow us to review valuations using the tools available to us that do not include face to face interactions.
How we proceed with these meetings is ultimately up to each district to determine. At this time, if you decide to continue as planned with the meeting, we will need to collaborate with you to facilitate a virtual means for the appraiser for your district to attend via teleconference or other electronic resource. A quorum will still be required with at least one board member certified with the State local board training. One member of the board will also need to be authorized to sign for those in attendance virtually. Procedures will need to be in place to allow property owners to safely present their appeal to the board while maintaining current social distancing requirements issued by the Minnesota Department of Health.
If you decide to cancel, postpone or move to the open book format we will need to have further communication and will work with you to ensure that we take the appropriate steps required to make that change. If you decide to have your meeting go to an open book format, the DOR recommends that your residents are notified as soon as possible that you will not be holding the meeting due to the COVID-19 virus.
For the districts utilizing the open book appeal process, we have a lot more flexibility as our staff will be able to respond to property owners directly and make any necessary adjustments until one week prior to the County Board meeting which is currently scheduled for June 15th.
During a pandemic and a declared State and County emergency, the most important thing that we must be concerned with is the safety of those that are involved in the process. We are hopefully awaiting further action and guidance from the DOR or other State Officials to allow for more flexibility than what is currently allowed by statute. If that doesn’t become reality, we need to have a plan in place to fulfill our duties.
Allowing for a fair and equitable review and to ensure every taxpayer receives due process is first and foremost on our agenda but we must balance that with our commitment for safe, secure and healthy meetings. We appreciate your cooperation as we navigate through these difficult times.
Thank you for working with us to best serve and
protect the citizens of Wright County.
To see the referenced Department of Revenue March 18 memo, click here: https://www.revenue.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/2020-03/LBAE%202020.pdf