The Marion County building in downtown Salem (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

Property values across Marion and Polk counties are at an all-time high, but most homeowners this year can expect the same 3% property tax increase they’re accustomed to.

As of Jan. 1, the real market value of all property in Marion County rose by 7.63% from last year to $57.2 billion, according to a Wednesday press release from the assessor’s office. That’s being driven by significant increases in the value of all property types, including homes in urban areas as well as commercial and industrial property.

The assessor’s offices in Marion and Polk counties every year determine properties’ real market value, which reflects the estimated amount of cash buyers could reasonably expect to pay owners for their property.

Marion County Assessor Tom Rohlfing said residential markets have seen significant growth since the Jan. 1 assessment date based on current tax statements.

Rohlfing said “persistently extremely low interest rates and more buyers” likely contributed to the growth in real market value.

Compared to the past couple of years, he said the recent growth shows higher demand relative to supply. "Buyers have typically been offering prices above asking prices," he said. Last year, the total real market value of all property in Marion County as of Jan. 1, 2020, rose by 5% from 2019 to $53.15 billion.

Rising values of residences and residential land in cities and towns are a result of the increase, bringing the total real market value — which reflects land and improvements for typical property — to $25.5 billion, a 4.89% increase from 2020, the press release said.

The total value of rural property like acreage homes, farms and forest lands continued to grow to a total real market value of $11.99 billion, a 1.92% increase from last year, the press release said. The real market value of commercial and industrial properties has steadily grown as well to $15.98 billion, a 10.84% increase from the 2021 tax year.

But due to measure 50, a ballot initiative passed in 1997 that effectively limited increases in properties’ taxable value, the typical home that doesn’t see a physical or legal change will see at most a 3% increase in taxable value unless it was removed from a program such as an exemption, special assessment or court adjudication, Rohlfing said.

“New development will see the most significant change,” he said, but changed properties always see changes in their assessments.

The assessor’s offices also follows Measure 50 statutes to administer the maximum assessed value, which puts a cap on the assessed value of each property. A property’s assessed value is whichever is the lowest between the real market value and maximum assessed value.

For the average property of all types, but not all properties, Rohlfing said, the maximum assessed value will be lower than the estimated real market value. Currently, for a typical property or property tax account, the estimated real market value could increase substantially more than 3%, but the assessed value would still be limited to a 3% increase.

“So when the market value increases, they're not seeing any unexpected change to their assessed value,” he said. “But a market could increase substantially more than that.”

Rohlfing said he expects the current tax season to be a light one in regard to calls and appeals made to the Marion County Assessor’s Office.

Schools, Chemeketa Community College and education service districts will get the biggest share of property tax revenue in Marion County at 45.77%. Cities will get 22.55%, Marion County Government 17.21%, fire districts 6.64% and urban renewal districts about 3.34%.

In Polk County, the real market value grew 9% from 2020 to $12.8 billion, according to an Oct. 15 press release.

Polk County Assessor Valerie Patoine said the real market value grew by roughly the same amount as it did last year.

The overall assessed value grew by around 4.5% to $7.08 billion, the press release said, and the total amount of taxes, special assessments, fees and charges that will be collected for all districts in the county is around $111.2 million for the 2021 tax year, growing by 5% since last year.

Patoine said the average homeowner in Polk County will see their assessed value grow by 3%, and the taxes they pay will be impacted by any local bonds or levies passed, which fluctuate every year, as well as any recent construction on their property.

She said Polk County’s 2021-22 property tax rates will be nothing out of the ordinary for most taxpayers. “The market is strong,” she said, and a strong real market value creates a growing gap between itself and the maximum assessed value, allowing the maximum assessed value to grow 3%.

Marion County mailed out tax bills Oct. 18, and they are due Nov. 15.

Polk County mailed out tax statements Wednesday, and they are also available on the county's website. They are due Nov. 15.

Both assessor’s offices encouraged property owns to review their tax statements for accuracy, and they can request a review before filling an appeal. The Marion County Assessor’s Office can be reached at 503-588-5144. The Polk County Assessor’s Office can be reached at 503-623-8391.

This story was updated to reflect that Marion County tax bills are due Nov. 15 and not Oct. 25, which is the statutory deadline to mail out tax statements.


Tax bills on their way to Salem area property owners

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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