By Joy Hampton

In 2006 Rogers County property assessed for a market value of $4.15 billion.

When County Assessor Melissa Anderson took office, the 2003 Gross Assessed Valuations for Real Estate Property was $276,919,224 and Personal Property was $76,603,992.

In 2006 Rogers County assessed at $350,141,765 for Real Estate and $106,921,576 for Personal Property. That is an increase of 26.44 percent for real estate and 39.58 percent for personal property.

Total parcels or pieces of property owned increased from 39,810 in 2003 to 42,538 in 2006. A parcel is a unit of property. These parcels are of various sizes. Owners may hold more than one parcel.

“Our increased market value figures are stimulated by growth,” said Anderson.

Each year the assessor’s office puts a value on various properties, going in cycles to cover different sections so that the entire county is reassessed every four years.

Anderson wants taxpayers to know her office does not establish property tax RATES. They DO put value on property.

Tax rates vary from town to town and are set by the county and governing municipalities. Based on the value of the property and the rate, ad valorem taxes are assessed.

Ad valorem, or property taxes, help to subsidize public schools and sometimes fire, county, and health departments.

Roughly translated, ad valorem is Latin for “according to value.”

Anderson cannot promise lower taxes. What she strives for is fairness, and that anyone who comes to her office for help will be treated like family.

“I have good people that know their jobs. We’re here to help people,” said Anderson. “One lady thanked us for our help and told us, ‘I’d heard when you came to the assessor’s office you’d be treated like family.’ That’s the highest compliment we can hear.”

Anderson has been working for the county since 1979. She did stints in the county clerk and commissioners’ offices.

“I felt that my past experience with everything in the courthouse and seeing all aspects of county government would bring an expertise into this office that would allow me to be fair and equitable,” said Anderson. She describes her job as challenging.

“It’s not an easy job, there are so many laws and regulations to go by,” said Anderson. “My office is guided by Title 68.”

She admits she doesn’t mind asking the Oklahoma Tax Commission for guidance. She can also call on ADA Barry Farbro, and will occasionally call other counties to share feedback on how to handle various situations.

What the assessor’s office does

Anderson’s office has four appraisers who go out and put value on property. Three of these specialize in residential, the other does commercial property.

“We only value from the outside of a home. We can’t go inside. What we do is mass appraisal,” said Anderson. “By law, I have to divide the county into four sections. By law, we must inspect a fourth of the county each year.”

Anderson also looks at the county on a comprehensive basis each year. Her staff built maps of where property is selling and what prices those properties bring. Section maps show vacant land.

“We have to appraise new sales every year,” said Anderson.

When property sells, her office sends an appraiser who is familiar with the area to look at it. In April, a letter to the new property owner establishes the taxes.

According to Anderson most taxpayer protests are a result of not understanding why taxes increase when a sale occurs.

Property taxes are capped and can only be increased 5 percent a year which may not keep up with rising market values. When the property is sold, the cap comes off and the tax must be brought up to match full market value. Special exemptions for low income or senior citizens may also apply to a previous owner but not the purchaser.

“Rogers County is one of the fastest growing counties in Oklahoma. In most instances, growth brings more jobs, better pay and living conditions. It can lead to an increase in the value of real estate,” says a letter signed by Anderson.

Taxes are due in November and taxpayers have until Dec. 31 to pay the first half. The second half is due by March 31.

“I want everything to be as fair and equitable as possible,” said Anderson. “I want everyone to be treated the same.”

The assessor’s office also deals with taxes levied on business and farm personal property, and commercial real estate. People can learn more about these taxes online.

“We have a really good Web site developed by Brett Williston,” said Anderson.

See and select the button for the assessor’s office

People can buy aerial maps at the assessor’s office or come in and research who owns property they’d like to purchase. Anyone with tax questions can call or come into the office for help.

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