Tax assessments climb for 2014

ALPENA – Tax assessments in Alpena climbed in most neighborhoods in the city for 2014, as did commercial property. Due to the elimination of personal property tax, review adjustments and veteran exemptions, however, the city is still looking like it is going to lose needed tax revenue from 2013.

The real estate market is beginning to rebound in Alpena and the values of homes are increasing slightly as 11 of 13 neighborhoods – classified as units – saw an increase in the value of their property and taxes.

City Assessor Jeff Shea said residential assessments went up 2.23 percent from 2013, with Oxbow Farms Condos and the North Side Factory Area gaining the most. He said the commercial class property increased 3.78 percent and industrial property was nearly flat and didn’t need adjusting.

Shea said the assessment numbers are at levels from about 2005 or 2006 and although there are a lot of variables yet to be worked out, the city may not see a significant bump in tax revenue until 2009 levels are reached.

“Basically your home is worth what it was 10 years ago. We took a big drop and we’re still working our way back. We’re still not really close in terms of money to the city,” Shea said. “It means we are still going to be struggling for a while.”

In 2012 Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law the elimination of personal property taxes for small businesses. Shea said that will equate to about a $35,000 of tax revenue to the city, although the state is considering ways to reimburse local units of government. It has yet to be determined where the state money would come from, and how much the city could get back.

Overall, the 2014 taxable value total increased by $966,203 to $248,492,625. He said those numbers will slip a bit after the board of review meets and veteran exemptions are tallied. He also expects about $2.6 million to be taken from the overall assessed total from poverty exemptions.

“We are still pre-board of review, so the numbers will still drop,” Shea said. “We will grant more than 100 poverty exemptions and probably eight to 10 exemptions for disabled veterans for about $400,000. The final numbers aren’t in yet, but we’ll lose about $2 million off the total yet.”

Shea said some areas that were hit hardest when the economy and real estate markets collapsed are bouncing back a little better than other areas in Alpena. He said neighborhoods near the high school had a solid 2.33 percent jump, while the south side, north of Washington Avenue, dipped 2.96 percent. Shea said there are a variety of factors why some areas increase more than others. He said much of it is due to the quality of living and condition of the properties.

“I do a study and divide the city into different neighborhoods. You see most of the ones that go the increase and they are good, clean neighborhoods, with very few rentals and streets in decent shape,” Shea said. “What you see on a place like the north side of Washington is that there is a lot of rental property, a lot of maintenance issues and not quite as nice of a neighborhood to live in. So the same house is going to be worth less than what it would be if it were in the neighborhood by the high school.”

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