Independence Council sets Board of Appeals

BY SUSAN VANCLEAF
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS

Property owners in Independence will get the chance to begin the process of appealing assessed valuations of their property at the local Board of Appeals meeting, set for 7 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 11 at Independence City Hall, located at 1920 County Road 90.
Property owners received notices containing their assessed valuations from Hennepin County in March. Valuation figures will be used in determining property taxes for taxes payable in 2018.
Melissa Potter, principal appraiser for Hennepin County, gave the Independence City Council a preview of the upcoming Board of Appeals at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, March 28.
At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business.

BOARD OF APPEALS
Appraiser Potter said the process of appealing assessed valuations related to property taxes has two steps.
First, property owners should call her office at 612-348-3046 prior to the Board of Appeals. They can discuss their concerns with an appraiser. Often callers are satisfied after talking with the appraiser, Potter said.
Calling in advance also will enable Dave Thomsen, lead appraiser for Independence, to bring information pertaining to a particular property to the local Board of Appeals. To begin the appeals process, a property owner must file for appeal in writing or at this meeting.
The local Board of Appeals has the authority to increase, decrease or take no action on individual valuations, Potter said. Mayor Marvin Johnson and City Councilor Brad Spencer sit on the local Board.
The second step is to file the appeal with the Hennepin County Board of Appeal and Equalization. A property owner must make an appointment with the County Board by May 17. Call 612-348-7050 to make an appointment. The County Board will begin meeting on June 12.

COUNTY ANALYZES PROPERTY VALUES
Hennepin County appraisers re-evaluate one fifth of the properties in Independence every year, Potter said. This year appraisers looked at properties along the Highway 12 corridor.
Appraisers analyze estimated market values along with sales data from the market. They take into consideration values of structures sitting on all properties in Hennepin County, along with sales data specific to Independence, she said. Differences in property values amongst cities have to do with the land on which a structure is sitting. Value of land in New Hope will be different from the value of land in Independence.
Potter summarized the results of this year’s analysis of estimated market values for property in Independence. Value of residential property not located on a lakeshore increased by 4.7 percent, on average. Value of residential lakeshore property went up by 0.2 percent, on average.
For other types of property, the average market value increase was 1.6 percent for agricultural land, 2.3 percent for commercial property and 4.0 percent for industrial property. Potter said the price per acre of tillable agricultural land is going down.

WEST HENNEPIN PUBLIC SAFETY
Public Safety Director Gary Kroells, of West Hennepin Public Safety, invited citizens of Independence and Maple Plain to a ceremony at which two new WHPS patrol officers will take their oaths of office. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11, prior to the Local Board of Appeals, at City Hall.
The new officers are Aaron Geddes and Shawn Ebeling.
Kroells said a third new officer is being trained. He expected WHPS to have a full contingent of sworn police officers as of May 1.
WHPS handled 1,287 incident complaints during the first two months of this year, he said. This is an increase of 161 incidents compared with the same time period last year. This year WHPS responded to 244 incident complaints in Maple Plain and 370 in Independence as of Feb. 28.
Kroells said WHPS officers are issuing more citations to motorists for failing to drive with due care. Roads are becoming increasing dangerous because of distracted drivers, many of whom are using cell phones while driving. Police are not as lenient with distracted drivers as they used to be.
Kroells also said WHPS would be involved in a March 29 training session for elected officials from 11 area cities. Police will train officials on their responsibilities during disasters. Kroells is in charge of emergency management for Independence, and he would inform local officials about what they need to do for the city to cope with a particular disaster.