Linn County Auditor Apologizes for Late Valuation Report

Published: Jan. 11, 2016 at 9:53 PM CST
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Linn County Auditor Joel Miller is offering an apology to all of the entities who depend on the county’s annual valuation report to determine their budgets.

The report is used by cities, townships, and school districts. If the valuation is number is lower than previous years, it could cause them to raise property taxes. Miller said the delay is due to system issues.

“The software and or system has not operated in the manner that allows us to generate the report, and that’s where we are today,” Miller said.

He said the system can take between four and 20 hours to compute the county’s 104,000 parcels, but the system hasn’t given him a number he can approve.

“It’s almost an all or nothing, it either works right or doesn’t work at all,” Miller said. “It gets so far and then it basically goes belly up and stops, or locks up something like a computer would do that’s running a program. Then we have to restart it again.”

As for right now he asks for those needing the report to use numbers from last year, until he can get them this years.

The Linn County Treasurer’s office uses the same system to issue tax bills, and has also seen issues in the past. In 2014, homeowners were supposed to pay their property taxes by September 30 of that year. Usually the county would notify those who missed the payment by November. Due to system problems mean those notices were not sent out until after February 12.

That office is still able to do things manually by using spreadsheets, which minimizes the problems it has.

“It takes a little extra time, a little extra man power, but then we can be assured that we’re sending the right amount of money to the right entities,” Linn County Treasurer Sharon Gonzalez said.

Miller said the auditor’s office can’t do things manually due to the many different computations the office must use.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors elected this system in 2010. The auditor and treasurer’s office started solely using this software in 2015.

Board Member Linda Langston said it’s not only a computer issue, but there are a lot of factors that go into the systems problems.

“This is a very robust system, it is very dependent on the local people to configure it in a way that works for them,” Langston said. “The system itself needs to work well, and the people who implement it have to work well.”

She said retirements, state law changes, new tax districts, and communications are all factors of this problem, and after things are resolved everyone will sit down and asses how to handle the situation in the future.

“What do we need to do better? How much sooner do we need to start? Building those kinds of things going forward will be really important,” Langston said.

Miller said he does not know when the report will be released, but many people are working around the clock to get it done as soon as possible.