McCracken PVA Finds $3 Million in Untaxed Property
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH - The new McCracken County Property Valuation Administrator has been busy since he took office, and has so far found approximately $3 million in property that has never been taxed. 

Bill Dunn told West Kentucky Star his department has been assessing homes in person, which is required county-wide every four years by state law. However, he says some properties haven't been assessed in quite some time, and his office has found homes that have been built for several years, but owners have avoided paying taxes because the properties were never assessed. 
McCracken County's properties are divided by fire districts, and Dunn says his office has covered the Melber district. The $3 million in property hasn't just been from that district, however. 

"It's hit-and-miss." Dunn said. "It wasn't solely in the Melber Fire District, it wasn't solely residential, it wasn't solely commercial. Some of it was farm, some residential, and some commercial."

Dunn says the Melber Fire District will end up getting about $3,700 more tax revenue than it did in 2018 because of the new property valuations.

With eight more districts to go, Dunn expects this trend to continue. He said it's not uncommon for PVA offices to be a little behind on assessments of new property, but McCracken County may be a more extreme example. 

Dunn believes there are two reasons for what he's found: an exemption that benefits farmers who build on their land, and a lack of systematic assessments of neighborhoods. 

As reported in an April story on West Kentucky Star, farm properties with 10 acres or more are exempt from permitting or inspection requirements that would alert his office to possible increased value, so the only way to know a home or building has been built is to visit the area. Some homeowners on farms have escaped paying taxes for over 20 years because of this loophole. 

As for the assessments, Dunn says, "It just wasn't being done systematically. No one was going from property to property reviewing every single parcel like it was supposed to be done."

Besides visiting these districts, the PVA office gets information about building permits and inspections from the city and the county, but apparently that hasn't always been the case.

Dunn said, "I understand that was not done or wasn't reliable. There wasn't a good relationship with this office and, say, the city, so the permits were not available. So, there were buildings being built in the city and we didn't know about it because we weren't getting the permits because of a bad relationship between this office and the city."

Dunn replaced former PVA Nancy Bock, who resigned after 25 years while under investigation for forgery and theft. He was elected to a full term in November.

Dunn said another contributing factor to the situation is staffing. He said there are currently two full-time staff members working on assessing property, and another is coming soon, but he estimates it would take five full-time employees to cover the county every four years.

"We really need two more full-time people, and there's no way we can get enough money from the state to hire enough people," Dunn said. 

His office lists what they believe is fair cash value for the property, but added that they may list a slightly different value than an appraiser. 

Dunn said, "If you have three appraisers do a property, you're going to get three different values. It's the same thing for assessors. We should be within a 5-10 percent margin, but everybody's going to be a little different. "

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Published 04:13 PM, Friday Jul. 26, 2019
Updated 01:47 PM, Saturday Jul. 27, 2019

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