FARMINGTON — Some Davis County residents may be in for sticker shock this month when valuation notices start showing up in mailboxes.

Davis County Assessor James Ivie said Centerville, like Bountiful in 2007, has been neglected over the years due to low staffing numbers in the assessor's office.

That neglect will likely mean higher-than-expected values this year for some Centerville, West Bountiful and Woods Cross residents and could mean higher taxes, though few entities in Davis County are raising property taxes.

In 2007, an outcry over property taxes erupted in Bountiful and North Salt Lake after property values for many residents doubled or more. That, combined with property-tax increases by four taxing entities, led to huge increases in property tax bills.

County officials scrambled to find relief for homeowners through an equity adjustment, and the Utah Legislature took up the cause, as well, and continues to study the state's property tax system to bring some certainty to homeowners' property taxes.

Legislators have debated switching from assessor-based fair-market values to acquisition values, removing school districts as entities that tax property and recently heard a proposal to eliminate property taxes entirely.

Ivie took a lot of heat from city officials and residents in 2007, and he will likely take more this year, but he said the value corrections needed to be done. He knew he needed to make corrections to property values when he ran for office and knew those corrections could be painful for a time.

"If I couldn't solve the problem, it would be very frustrating," he said.

Ivie's goal this year was to reappraise the entire county, with a specific investigation in Centerville, West Bountiful and Woods Cross. That may mean frustration for home and business owners, but by 2009, property valuations are expected to be a smoother process.

"The real benefit to what we've done this year will be seen next year," he said, adding that once all property values in the county are at a correct level, property tax spikes based on values should cease because of the state's truth-in-taxation laws.

Truth-in-taxation states that taxing entities may not collect more property-tax revenue than the previous year if property values increase, unless they hold a public hearing to increase their tax rates. Otherwise, if values go up, the tax rate drops to compensate and maintain the same revenue levels.

If residents are upset with the values, they are welcome to appeal them to the county's board of equalization, Ivie says. But appeals must include some evidence as to why the value is wrong.

Evidence can include data of three comparable sales from a Realtor or a private appraisal, which isn't recommended unless the homeowner plans to get one anyway for a financial transaction, such as a home refinance.

All appeal information is included in valuation notices, which the Davis County Clerk/Auditor's Office will send to residents beginning July 25.


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