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Know what the Assessor does
Substantial portions of State of Minnesota Statutes 270, 272, and 273 describe the duties of a Minnesota Assessor, who may assess a township or two, a city, or part or all of a county. Although the City of Duluth is within St. Louis County, which has an assessor, Duluth and numerous other cities and townships within the county have their own assessors.
In brief, the assessor’s two primary duties are to classify and value real estate for property tax purposes.
Property classes are created and defined by the legislature and have various tax rates that cause some types of property to pay more tax per dollar of assessed value than other types of property. The assessor follows the law and Department of Revenue interpretations in the classification of property. Because cities have substantial zoning laws and enforcement, most classification reflects actual use as most properties are in compliance with local zoning.
Property values reflect local markets as all real estate transactions involving $1000 or more are reported to the assessor. The assessor takes land and building characteristics observed during inspections, codes them into a computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) valuation model calibrated against local sales, and reconciles the model generated value with his experience and knowledge of the market to arrive at an estimated market value for property tax purposes.
There are myriad other responsibilities assigned to the Assessor’s Office, but in the majority they support or are a consequence of the two primary duties of classification and valuation.