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Property values down for some - farmland values are up

Values for many Ogle County properties are down this year due to the sluggish economy and declining real estate prices.

"Commercial and residential is down — it varies from township to township," said Ogle County Supervisor or Assessments Jim Harrison.

Harrison just released the assessments for 2011 which will be reflected on 2012 real estate tax bills.

A listing of the assessments for 16 of the county's 25 townships appears in the C section of this week's papers.

Assessments for commercial and residential properties are based on sales prices over the last three years, he said.

"We looked at sales for 2008, 2009, and 2010 for this year's assessments," Harrison said. "If we looked at only one year, they would be even lower. 2008 was still a pretty good year, saleswise."

Both the number of property transactions and the selling prices are considered, and both are down, he said.

The only exception to the downward spiral is farmland, he said.

"Farmland assessments are up 10 percent. That's based on the state formula," Harrison said.

Those assessments are based on the productivity of the land and crop prices.

"Farmland is still selling pretty well," Harrison said. "I saw some on the west side of the county recently that went for $8,000 an acre."

Twenty-one townships in the county have been assigned negative equalization factors (less than 1.00) by the state, meaning the assessment is too high in relation to selling prices.

Applying the negative equalization factor, also called a multiplier, brings the assessment into line with what properties are actually selling for.

In a healthy economy, the equalization factors are usually more than 1.00.

The remaining four townships — Mt. Morris, Monroe, Lynnville, and Dement — have been assigned equalization factors of 1.00, which will leave the assessment unchanged.

Harrison said the assessors in those townships made many changes in assessments to reflect the declining sale prices.

While the lower assessments may be seen by property owners as lower tax bills and therefore, good news, it can spell bad news for taxing bodies.

"Those that are taxing at their maximum rates will likely get fewer tax dollars," Harrison said.

For example, the River Conservancy District at Lost Nation will lose $4 million in assessed value as a result, and that translates into $30,000 less in real estate tax revenues, Harrison said.

Ogle County's tax revenues for 2012 may not vary significantly from this year's, he said, for two reasons — the increase in farmland values and a $10 million hike in the value of Exelon Nuclear's Byron Generating Station.

That hike was dictated by a four-year contract between Exelon and the Ogle County  Intergovernmental Agency (IGA), setting the plant's assessment.

The IGA is comprised of 11 taxing bodies that draw taxes from the plant.

That contract expires at the end of 2011 and will have to be renegotiated between the two sides.

"Next year it's up for grabs," Harrison said.

He said he has no word on when negotiations will begin.

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