More problems for the assessor's office and tax increases | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 6, 2012

More problems for the assessor's office and tax increases

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 8:48 AM

UNDERVALUED? This Edgewood house was valued at $624,000,  but sold in July for $1.1 million.
  • UNDERVALUED? This Edgewood house was valued at $624,000, but sold in July for $1.1 million.
Fine story in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today on the apparent underassessment of the market value of houses in some of Little Rock's finest neighborhoods, including in Prospect Terrace and around the Country Club of Little Rock. The assessor's office has begun work on corrections.

Good luck convincing the average voter that lower rates for rich folks were an accident or the product of appraisers misunderstanding the intrinsically high value of some shabby chic residences long occupied by some of the city's richest and most influential citizens. The average beginning real estate agent understands even Jim Walter-built scrapers have huge value in these neighborhoods.

But did a guy who lives on Edgewood in Prospect Terrace really tell a D-G reporter that his 4,000-square-foot house, sold in 2001 for $933,000 and again in late July for $1.1 million, might not be undervalued with a market appraisal of $624,000? That markdown is good for an annual tax savings of better than $6,000, or $500 a month.

If that house was correctly appraised, what are we to conclude about the owner's smarts for paying $476,000 more than it was worth?

But on to a larger point: The prospect of a round of jacked-up property tax assessments — and suspicions of favoritism for the influential — in a neighborhood long the bellcow for property tax elections could have been better timed. A vote is coming Tuesday on Little Rock's proposal to impose a new three-mill property tax for streets and drainage. I'll be voting for it regardless.

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