Taxable value decline slows

ALPENA -The Alpena County Board of Commissioners received some good news during its meeting on Tuesday from Equalization Director John Hippensteel.

According to Hippensteel the county’s over equalized value on property fell on 2.05 percent, which would be the smallest drop since 2009. The taxable value in the county dropped only 0.11 percent, and according to Hippensteel these small decreases may point to positive numbers next year, which would be good news for home and business owners and the county.

The total equalized value of property, homes and businesses in the county in 2013 is a little over $1 billion, which equates to a taxable value of $895,308,610. In 2012 the county lost more than 2 percent on its tax role, less than 1 percent drop in taxable value means the county will only lose $4,771 in 2013. Hippensteel said the small drop this year could be a sign of positive gains next year.

“In 2010 we dropped more than 5 percent for the last three years and to have a 2.5 percent drop makes me think we are rounding off and we have reached the bottom,” Hippensteel said. “My prediction is, and right now it is just sort of a wild guess, is we’ll be about zero in equalized value and have a slight increase in taxable value next year. It would be nice to see it go up and not see the county lose money for a year and people will have liquidity in their homes.”

Real estate professionals think once the market has reached its bottom there could be a dramatic bounce where values soar. Hippensteel said there is a chance that could happen in Alpena County, especially if the development at the airport takes shape.

“There very well could be a bounce. If you look back to the year 2000 and for years after that we had increases of 7, 14, 8 percent. We were having some very large jumps, but then the economy bottomed out and it fell,” Hippensteel said. “Now we do have a lot of good things going on in Alpena that may help. One of those things could be the drone project and if that happens it will bring in companies, employment, the amount of people coming in wanting to buy houses. I think we will see a lot of house sales and the values come back up a lot faster if that happens.”

Wellington Township has the highest residential value, including vacant land, at $90,022 per parcel. There are 366 parcels in the township. Alpena Township was second highest with $87,669 for its 6,290 parcels and the City of Alpena was lowest with 2,294 parcels valued on average $60,085.

Hippensteel said the value of property in the city is misleading because of two factors. One is the amount of poverty exemption in the city. There are people who if they meet certain criteria, can have their tax bill lowered or wiped clean. He said there are 104 poverty exemptions in 2013. He said there also are Matthew Gast exemptions that allow people to make repairs or maintenance on their homes and it will not be reflected on the equalized or taxable values.

“If you were to replace your furnace, put on a roof or change the siding, you could apply for a Matthew Gast and you wouldn’t be affected,” Hippensteel said. “If you were to change siding from wood to vinyl then it would change, because that would be considered an improvement. If it wasn’t for these things the city’s values would be significant higher.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at