Fired Brown County equalization director Michael Hauke may have kicked a hornet’s nest bigger than Brown County. His announcement in January that Brown County was illegally overtaxing some farmers by adjusting assessments upward based on neighborhood land-sale values instead of straight productivity calculations has prompted some review by the state. Property and Tax Division director Michael Houdyshell has discovered that at least three other counties appear to be rigging their tax maps similarly:
Houdyshell was at a special meeting of the Brown County Commission Tuesday afternoon in the basement of the Brown County Courthouse Annex. The meeting was set to discuss ag land assessment problems.
Houdyshell said Minnehaha, Marshall and Day counties are among those that appear to have been inappropriately using neighborhoods to determine values.
He said he learned of the Day County situation Friday [Shannon Marvel, “Brown County Ag Assessment Meeting Yields Few Answers, Many Strong Opinions,” Aberdeen American News, 2018.03.21].
Some Brown County farmers are asking for refunds. Farmers in Minnehaha, Marshall, Day, and elsewhere may want to scrutinize their county tax rolls to see if they should ask for cash back as well. If this problem is widespread, we could see a surge in petitions to run for county commissions, which are due next Tuesday, March 27, at your local auditor’s office.