By Dave Fidlin
Plans for a villagewide reassessment in Rochester are in motion in 2025, following a recent vote from municipal officials.
After a robust discussion, the Rochester Village Board on Jan. 8 voted, 6-0, to seek bids for a 2025 reassessment. The directive comes against the backdrop of an assessment ratio that is out of compliance with state statute.
Village Administrator Betty Novy said Rochester’s assessment sales ratio “dropped significantly” from 2022 to 2023, based on information reported late this past year from the current assessor.
In 2022, Rochester’s assessment ratio was at 94.26%, putting the municipality in line with the state range of 90% to 110%. However, in 2023, the ratio dropped to 77.73%, triggering a five-year timetable to get back in compliance with the permissible range.
Rochester is one of a growing number of municipalities that is facing reassessments as property values have ticked upward in recent years.
While state statute is one reason Rochester has to move forward with a reassessment sooner rather than later, Novy said there are other local, practical implications at play as well that should prompt the work.
“The drop in the ratio, along with the fact that the village hasn’t done a revaluation since 2008, is creating a great deal of disparity in the values between properties that have been reassessed recently, vs. those that haven’t been reassessed since 2008,” Novy said.
During her discussion with the board, Novy gave an illustration of how the current situation is impacting properties on a granular level.
“Two properties that exist next door to each other and are of similar size, age and design have a $105,000 difference in the assessed value of their properties, and a $76,000 difference in the fair market value shown on their property tax bills,” Novy said.
Further elaborating on the example, Novy added, “The property taxes for the property which has been reassessed recently, due to a sale, are $1,785 higher than the property taxes of the property which has not been reassessed since 2008. Due to a 15-year span since the last revaluation, these types of disparities appear frequently on the property tax roll.”
While the recent ratio is prompting the need for the reassessment, Trustee Lori Peternell said she believed it would be prudent to do the exercise more frequently so property owners do not have sticker shock.
“We owe our constituents better than this,” Peternell said. “We need to change our thought process on this. I think we need to do a revaluation as soon as possible.”
Trustee Chris Johnson said he understood why the urgency for a reassessment is entering the forefront at this point in time.
“It’s really been in the recent years that (housing valuations) have exploded,” Johnson said.
In terms of cost, the forthcoming exercise could cost upward of $100,000, or more, depending on the scope of the work conducted.
Novy said “a similarly sized municipality” went through a reassessment last year and considered two cost options, $94,000 for an exterior-only revaluation and $105,000 for a full inspection revaluation.
Funds for a reassessment were not earmarked in the village’s 2024 budget, but Novy said there is sufficient money available in the village’s fund balance to cover the cost as bids are sought to conduct the work next year.