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Property assessments considered by taxation study committee

The legislative offseason is a time for lawmakers to workshop ideas and consider possibilities, including taxes paid on your property. Just how those values are assessed can be a sticking point though, meaning transparency is key.

Taxing structure can create opportunities for a community, but its also a delicate tightrope to walk across the state. Especially when appraising numbers are on the table. At this week’s study committee on property taxation, those valuations were up.

Shannon Rittberger is Pennington County director of equalization. He said often, many smaller counties look toward the larger counties for policy considerations.

“State law requires a county assessor to assess all real property at market value," Rittberger said. "We do that annually, some states don’t. Some states assess property every other year, every few years – South Dakota is an annual assessment. Even though we don’t look at property, your property is reassessed every year whether we’re on the sidewalk knocking on your door or not.”

Equalization offices do not set taxes, but instead focus on the valuation of that property. Rittberger explained how your government property value is calculated.

“State law requires that each county consider the three typical approaches to value," Rittberger said. "These are the same approaches to value used by any appraiser. That independent appraiser working for a bank is using the same three approaches to value. We’re not looking for different numbers, we’re looking for market value. The three approaches to value are the cost approach, the sales comparison or market approach, and the income approach to value.”

He said property owners should have easy access to this information.

“I want property owners to be able to look at the data we have on their property online to ensure that it’s right, and if they have a question then call us," Rittberger said. "I don’t think a property owner should have to come to my office to ask for a printout to go home and review before they call me back.”

For Pennington County residents, this information is available on the county's website.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture