Statewide assessment error results in tax rise for some residents

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Were you one of the Fulton County residents who received a letter from the county assessor’s office in late August? Those who did receive letters might’ve been confused at first but they wouldn’t be the first ones to be confused by this statewide error.

Fulton County Assessor Brad Schaufler sent notices to Fulton County residents, explaining the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department (AACD) had notified the county about an error for certain new and used auto and light truck values provided in January of this year. Along with the notice, an adjusted assessment with the true market value was included.

According to various media sites across the state, AACD was made aware in August that the values provided to all 75 Arkansas counties in January for new and used automobiles and light-duty pickups, were incorrect.

Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, said in an interview boats or ATVs would not be affected.

There are conflicting reports in articles but after state officials reviewed data, it appeared the vehicle values were off from 10 to 20 percent. In an article from arkansasonline.com, it was reported the only county not effected was Pulaski County. “That’s because county officials decided in January not to use the recommended numbers,” said the article.

Also in the article, Hardin explained the role of AACD.

“The Assessment Coordination [Division] contracts with a third party who provides the [vehicle] values,” Hardin said. “As the year went on, local county assessors brought to our attention that some of the numbers were low. We confirmed this with the contractor and immediately contacted all 75 counties to provide them with the means of accessing the advised numbers.”

Hardin said the incorrect values came from Price Digests, a vehicle database company. He added that the state’s contract with the company will be evaluated at the end of the year because of the erroneous assessment.

“We have a year-to-year contract with these companies,” Hardin said. “We’ve contracted with Price Digests for more than ten years in order to provide vehicle values from the company to assessors throughout the state.”

Hardin reported several county assessors contacted him about the values appearing to be too low. Schaufler said he also felt the values were lower than they should’ve been, however; the county assessments are based on the figures from the state, so it was out of his control.

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