Part II: Commercial property problems evident across Minnesota

by | May 24, 2021 | Commercial Property Tax Appeals

Regular readers of our Minnesota Commercial Property Tax Appeals Blog will recall a recent post about Northland commercial property taxes.

A number of commercial property owners and their attorneys have filed petitions in tax court contesting St. Louis County assessments of their properties – assessments that failed to reflect a year-plus of hard times.

Dearth of desired data

Mary Garness, St. Louis County’s director of public records and valuation, told the Duluth Tribune News that the assessor’s office struggles to accurately estimate property values because of a paucity of property sales data.

“Our process is based on sales ratios,” she said. “Let’s say there are only a handful of sales, we have to make our best estimation of value based on the information we have.

“But when you get into some of those commercial properties and industrial valuations, where you don’t have a lot of sales, you’re using a lot of qualitative factors and structural components to complete valuations.”

Access denied

Garness said assessors don’t always have access to valuable facts.

“Businesses aren’t always willing to share a lot of information,” she said. “We’re not always able to get financial information. And the only time we get that is through an appeal process, unfortunately.”

She said St. Louis County assessors willingly review valuations and consider overlooked factors affecting valuation.

Helpful commercial property tax appeals

Garness said the pandemic’s impact on the local economy – especially in tourism and office spaces – “warrants us to take a second look at the property valuations that we’ve determined.

“And through this petition process, we will learn a lot more from those property owners, because we’ll get financial information that will help us understand income streams,” she told the Duluth Tribune News. “If we get better information, then we’ll get better values in the end.”