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Ken Rechtin's Another Voice: How Your County PVA Can Save You Money!

When I think of the role of the Property Valuation Administrator (PVA), I am reminded of the TV commercial for a local window replacement company. At the end of the commercial, the owner and his daughter point at the audience and emphatically say: “We’ll save you a lot of money!”

The value of the PVA is very similar to that! You should get to know him/her and the rules that he/she lives by, because: “He’ll/she’ll save you a lot of money!” 

So who is the PVA, who do they work for, what do they do, when and where do they do it and why do we need them?

The PVA is a countywide elected official. This office is a constitutional office. Every four years, he/she is elected by voters in his/her county. 

The race for PVA is a partisan race contested by a Republican and a Democrat (if there are any left) and, sometimes, a Libertarian.

The contestants for PVA must hold a certificate issued by the Kentucky Revenue Department, showing that he/she has been examined by the department and that he is qualified for the office. This election is still a popularity contest for an administrative office; but the contestants must pass a qualifying test!

It is important to realize that the County Property Valuation Administrator (PVA) is an employee of the State of Kentucky. The PVA and their staff are paid by the State of Kentucky for their work. The PVA also charges the county and the cities for the use of the property assessments. Many local taxing districts, such as the library districts and the fire districts, even though they get the assessments to use for tax purposes, do not pay the PVA for those assessments.

The PVA’s primary duty is to equitably assess the value of real and personal property. The PVA is required to reassess each property in their county once every four years. The property assessment must be done, at the property, in person. All assessments and almost all records of the PVA are public record and therefore open to your inspection! If you wish to know what property is exempt from taxation, if you wish to know what properties went up in value and what went down in value, this is public record!

This assessed values as determined by the PVA are then used to calculate the real estate tax owed to the various governments.

So, where can the PVA save me a lot of money?

As a property owner in NKY, there are three main areas that you should examine:

  • Are you old (like me) or disabled? The Homestead exemption applies to any real property owned and maintained as the permanent residence of a taxpayer who is sixty-five years of age or older. Either husband or wife may qualify for the exemption as long as one of them is at least sixty-five years old. Only one exemption is allowed per household.

The Homestead exemption is also extended to anyone who is totally disabled under a program authorized or administered by an agency of the United States Government or any retirement system either within or without the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Your PVA in your county has the forms needed to apply for thee exemptions.

Approval does not exempt the entire value of the property from taxation; only the amount approved by the Department of Revenue may be deducted from the assessed value of the property. 

This amount is adjusted every two years, as required by law, to account for changes in the purchasing power of the dollar. 

The exemption has increased from $6,500 in 1972 to $36,900 for the 2015 and 2016 property tax assessment periods. Under this exemption, your assessed value is reduced by $36,900!

“This saves you a lot of money!”

  • Do you use your property for horticulture (flowers, etc.), aquaculture (catfish, bass, etc.) or agriculture (tomatoes, cows, etc.)?

If you use your property for one of the above uses, and if the acreage is 10 or more acres for agriculture use or five or more acres for horticulture or aquaculture use, your land will qualify for the agricultural value program. This means that the value of land used for farm production is assessed at a “use” value, which results in a lower taxable dollar value per acre than the fair cash value for the same land. 

In a few cases, where a farm has little developmental potential, it may be found that the fair cash value and the agricultural value of land are nearly the same. The difference is most pronounced for farms located at the urban fringe, like much of the farmland here in NKY. 

“This saves you a lot of money!”

When was the last time that you looked at your real estate assessment? Just because your deed says that you purchased the property for a given amount does not mean that that amount should be the assessed value. 

How about three examples where the deed states a higher amount?

A year ago, 12 acres, just outside of the City of Alexandria, were purchased for over $8,000 per acre. The deed says $96,000. The buyer is using the land for the growing of tomatoes for sale. There is no house on the land. The PVA assesses the land for the deed value. The buyer contests assessments based on agricultural use. 

The PVA reassesses the land as agricultural use and the land now has a PVA assessed value significantly less that the value shown on the deed. This results in a lower tax bill. 

A new company purchases a large manufacturing facility for $83 million dollars. The deed says $83 million as the price of the facility. When the new company receives the assessment, they contest the assessment saying that the lawyer who produced the deed used the insurance value of the property for the deed and the sale was part of a larger sale of many plants. The purchasing company produced a real estate appraisal indicating a much lower value. The facility is now assessed at less than $30 million. This resulted in a much lower tax bill!

A homeowner in Fort Wright bought his first home for $297,000 in 2004. The great recession (aka, the global financial crisis) happens in late 2007. Home values plunge. The homeowner now looks at his PVA assessment and at the sale prices of like homes in his neighborhood and feels that his assessment is far too high. 

The median sale price in Ft. Wright is now $145,000 (in 2004 the median sale price in Ft. Wright was $297,000). The homeowner takes the comparable home sales to the PVA. The property is reassessed at $145,000 ($152,000 less than before). This resulted in cutting the tax bill in half!

Look at your assessment NOW!

Why NOW, you may ask?

By the time you receive your property tax bill in the fall of each year, it is too late to protest. 

Beginning on the first Monday in May and for thirteen days following, the state law requires that the PVA make the tax roll open to public inspection so that property owners may review the current assessment placed on their property. During this time period, you may contest the value placed on your property! 

All three PVAs in NKY have websites (some better than others) outlining the processes. 

The first step in the assessment appeals process is to schedule a conference with the property valuation administrator or an authorized deputy. At the conference you should come prepared with documentation which supports your value. If you and the PVA can reach an agreement on the property’s value during the conference, nothing 
further needs to be done. If no agreement is reached, then you have the option of filing an appeal with the local board of assessment appeals. At this appeal, you and the property valuation administrator will be both required to present evidence in support of what you believe the value to be. The local board will then issue its opinion of the property’s value.

After that appeal, either party may then continue the appeal process with the Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals.

Want to learn more? 

In Kenton County, your PVA is Darlene Plummer. The website is here. The Kenton County PVA office budget is not available on its website.

In Boone County, your PVA is Cindy Arlinghaus. The website is here. The Boone County PVA office budget is $1,039,630 for fiscal year ending June 30th, 2015. Thank you for your transparency, Cindy Arlinghaus!

In Campbell County, your PVA is Daniel Braun. The website is here. The Campbell County PVA office budget is not available on its website.

Do you think that this system works for you? Do you have a PVA story to tell me? Survey here.

The views and opinions expressed here in “Another Voice” do not reflect the views or opinions of The River City News, its owners, writers, or editors. These are solely the ideas of Ken Rechtin. If you wish to make comment to Another Voice, Ken can be reached via email at [email protected] or you may leave a comment here. All rights to use of Another Voice in any fashion are retained by Ken Rechtin. Please contact him for any use of his columns.

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