The number of Utah County property owners who appealed their 1990 valuations decreased significantly from 1989, but County Assessor Ronald Smith said that does not necessarily mean valuations are more accurate.

"It may mean that we are undervaluing properties," Smith said.Property valuations were mailed out in July, and equalization hearings were held in August. Betty Rice, Board of Equalization clerk, said the number of hearings dropped by more than 1,000 from last year, with 67 percent of the appeals being successful.

Smith said the assessor's office reappraised more than 25,000 properties in 1989.

"Anytime you reappraise you're going to miss on some properties," Smith said.

He said that property values are on the rise, which creates a tendency to undervalue property. Only one property owner requested an appeal because of undervalued property.

"That's obviously a rare circumstance," he said.

County commissioners did not include funding for reappraisals in the 1990-91 budget, but Smith said it is important that the county reappraise properties more regularly. Otherwise, he said, the county may be losing thousands of dollars on undervalued property. If the number of equalization requests continues to decrease, Smith said, the county should recognize that valuations probably are low.

"There is a point where the assessor has to be concerned if he has too few appeals," Smith said.

Most appeals are from property owners who recently had their property appraised at a lower market value. Some are from those who recently purchased their property for a price lower than their valuation.

"If they have good evidence that the values have changed then they are usually successful," he said.

About 20 valuations are changed each year because of incorrect information provided to the assessor's office, Smith said.

In 1989, $326,232 was lost as a result of successful appeals. This year the entities that share in property tax revenues will lose $222,999. The county anticipates the revenue loss each year when it figures its budget and makes revenue estimates to cities and school districts.

Rice said those who lost appeals and are not satisfied with the Board of Equalization decision can appeal to the state Tax Commission within 30 days.

"Once they've heard from us they are through with the county," Rice said.

Final 1990 property tax notices will be mailed out the last week of November. Taxes are due Nov. 30.


(Additional information)

Declining appeals

County equalization reports:

1989 1990

Properties appealed 2,472 1,390

Appeals accepted 1,604 936

Appeals denied 288 157

No shows 190 140

Withdrew 212 104

State appeals 178 5*

*by Oct. 9