By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – Fall River County Commissioners unanimously passed a Property Tax Remedy Resolution at their regular meeting last week on Dec. 16, which they hope will help encourage the S.D. Legislature to draft and adopt similar legislation to address the current state of sky rocketing property valuations, which will result in taxes that residents may not be able to pay in order to remain in their homes.
According to Resolution #2021-71, Fall River County, in conjunction along with other South Dakota counties, have experienced a drastic increase in sales, far and above the normal market sales. While this has benefited the local economy and those selling properties, it has caused a deleterious outcome regarding property valuations.
The resolution also includes the following details:
• Currently all sales are utilized in the calculation of property valuations.
• Fall River County had 552 sales between November of 2018 – October of 2019, and 843 sales between November of 2020 and October of 2021.
• Fall River County’s Sales Ratio analysis has seen an increase of 8 to 10% each year since 2018. Each year beginning between 80-84% and being increased to 92-94%. This year the beginning number for the sales ratio is 69.14%.
• With a beginning Sales Ratio of 69.14%, an increase to 92-94% will result in a horrendous increase of approximately 25% in valuation under the current tax valuation system.
Since codified law on the calculation of valuations does not allow for any deviation from the inflated sales currently occurring, the county commissioners claim the result will be adverse to the average taxpayer. “County, Municipalities, Townships, Fire Districts, Ambulance Districts and Road Districts would see a reduction in their mill levies with an increase of value.”
The resolution also states there is concern about school taxes as those taxes represent approximately 50% of all taxes collected. SD Legislators annually set the mill levies for the School General Fund – Ag, Owner Occupied and Other, along with Special Education.
“Unless schools have the ability to raise enough taxes to fund their budgets, those schools are forced to levy the maximum in order to receive state aid,” the resolution states. “Currently there are Property Tax Relief Programs to assist residents - the Homestead Exemption, Disabled Veteran Exemption, Paraplegics programs and the Assessment Freeze for the Elderly and Disabled individuals.”
“Fall River County has individuals who do not qualify for these relief programs, and who are caught in these spiraling property valuations, which will create higher taxes … Fall River County seeks to have an allowable manner through Legislation to be able to keep valuations fair.”