Approval Of Tax Abatement Brings Questions About Process To Do So

(KCCR) — Does the tax abatement process need to change? Some on the Pierre City Commission think so. The conversation began Tuesday night when Keith Fisk brought an abatement request before the Commission. City Finance Officer Twlia Hight says the Fisk property has been assessed higher than other properties in his development for five years…

“On the last page you can see all of the other lots in the Lancaster Place development and the values that are assigned there.  As mentioned, these are all in that development and there’s these are the land values only so it does have the address that acreages and the values on there and so the one that’s being questioned at 2015 and so the value on there is 83,546.  The rest of the lots other than one other one is 50, 128 they’re all identical except for this one.”
The Hughes County Commission approved Fisk’s request at their April 1st meeting. Hughes County Director of Equalization Melissa Flottmeyer says the property assessment appeals can only go back to the previous year and only abatements move on to City approval. Commissioner Vona Johnson isn’t sure the process is fair…

“This lot is considerably larger than the other lots in that neighborhood and if he goes to sell that property he’s going to be able to get more value for it then the 50,000 on the lot so I don’t know that I agree with the process.  It sounds like it’s already done but I think it’s worth taking a look at to see if it can be made more fair.”
Flottmeyer says the entire land valuation process would need to be revamped. She says the process is done the same for the most part but Hight challenged that…

“I mean, this is how it’s been done the whole time no matter where you’re at as far as size buildable frontage, none of that has ever been taken into consideration…so that’s where I don’t think it’s very fair for him to be the singled one out I mean everybody else is the same…”  “If I could just comment, we did look up a couple of other developments with the Building Department and we found a couple of other ones where they were not valued identically.  You know we just went through and plucked a couple of them to see if that case that it was always done that way and they weren’t they weren’t…” “I didn’t say always, but the majority of them are.
Mayor Steve Harding says he would support the request but wants to work with Hughes County moving forward to make sure process is fair to the city, county and residents. The Pierre City Commission approved the abatement request on a four to one vote with Commission Jim Mehlhaff casting the lone “no” vote.