Appraisers Office gets high marks from state
BY DALE HOGG
Barton County Appraiser Barbara Esfeld presented what she called her department’s “grade card” to county commissioners Monday morning. The marks put Barton County near the head of the class.
Esfeld gave the commission Monday morning an overview of the 2013 Ratio Study conducted by the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Property Valuation Department. The report compared a county’s residential and commercial property appraised values versus their sales prices for this past year.
“We were well within the standard norms,” Esfeld said. The Valuation Department sets “confidence intervals” for the ratios, and Barton County easily made the grade.
Farm land, vacant lots and other property were not included in the study, since their values are not determined by fair-market value.
As for residential, Esfeld said the county’s median ratio was 95.5, with the interval being 93.3-96.6. On commercial, the ration was 94.4, with the interval being 83.4-99.9.
Basically, she said, these ratings indicate that Barton County is appraising properties accurately. This is important since there are very stringent state compliance standards appraisers offices have to meet.
The results look “extremely exceptional” when comparing Barton with the other 104 counties, Esfeld said.
“If anyone has a bulls eye on their back, its you,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said of Esfeld, adding few things can anger a resident like what the see as an unjustified value increase. She commended the entire department for its efforts.
Some Barton County residents have asked for it and now, the Barton County Appraisers Office has it – a searchable list of county properties and their values.
Deputy County Appraiser Kathy Briney-Wagner walked county commissioners through the new website during their Monday morning meeting. She called up the 418-page spread sheet that lists the nearly 18,000 parcels in the county, typed in her address and it took her to the page that contained it.
“It’s not perfect,” she said. “But, we have something up there.”
Plus, Briney-Wagner said, she believes Barton County is the only of the 105 counties in Kansas to provide this much information online.
The new site has only been up for a short time, but she said it has already seen considerable use. It is popular with not only residents, but also private appraisers, insurance agents and real estate agents.
Visitors can search the PDF file by name, address and city. They can also sort to create lists of, for example, all the parcels on a certain street.
“This a snap shot,” Briney-Wagner said. Due to software limitations in how the information is uploaded, the information is only updated annually, so if a property changes hands, that won’t be reflected.
But, it is still better than what was available previously, she said. They are also working on a way to make it more current.
There is a link on the County Appraiser’s Office site to a searchable state property search site that lists current values and the ability to located that property on a map. However, it does not list the previous year’s value.
Briney-Wagner said residents could use the two sites in conjunction with each other to find what they are looking for.
“This is interesting information,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said.
In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved the replacing of counter tops and, if necessary, four old sinks, at the Barton County Health Department. Kern Floor Service of Great Bend had the low bid and will replace the counters for $2,465. Since Kern Floor doesn’t do this type of plumbing work, M&F Plumbing of Great Bend was contacted about the sinks. If M&F has to install new sinks, the estimated cost would be $2,730. It would be lower if the old sinks were reused, but there is a chance the pipes and other parts could break when they are removed.
• Approved purchasing additions to Road and Bridge Department software that includes layers, set up, installation and training is estimated. The upgrades will cost $5,300, with an annual retainer of $250. Currently, the department uses Star Road software to track personnel, equipment and supply items used in calculating job costs. The upgrades will help to meet state and federal requirements that mandate sign documentation and tracking, said Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillip.
• Approved the replacement of a vehicle for the Juvenile Services Department. The bid request was for a mini-van in good mechanical condition, with less than 25,000 miles. Included in the bid is the trade of a 2006 Ford Freestar with approximately 62,000 miles. The low bid came from Dove Chevrolet Buick Cadillac in Great Bend for $12,996.18 after the trade, said JSD Assistant Director Mike Daniel.