City Discusses Options for 2022 Citywide Property Assessment

OnFocus – During Tuesday’s meeting, the City of Marshfield Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee discussed options for a 2022 citywide property assessment.

Last year, the FBP Committee reviewed the City’s options for assessing services after the original 3-year contract with Grota Appraisals, LLC expired on December 31, 2021. The alternatives reviewed and discussed at that time were as follows:

1. Sign a 2-year extension of the original agreement, with a negotiated price increase
2. Solicit proposals for contract services using a Request for Proposals (RFP) process
3. Update the former City Assessor job description and seek to hire this staff position

Ultimately, the Committee recommended and the Council agreed to a one-year extension of the contract through December 31, 2021, with all terms staying the same, except for an adjustment in the contract price. However, Committee members expressed a desire to see further study of the “in-house” option when this matter was next review and considered, according to a memo from City Administrator Steve Barg.

The 2021 contract extension by and between Grota Appraisals, LLC and the City of Marshfield, Wood/Marathon Counties Wisconsin (City) extended the same terms and conditions of the 2017 assessment contract for one additional year, through December 31, 2021. The annual compensation provided to Grota Appraisals, LLC for services rendered to the City of Marshfield in 2021 was agreed at $125,000.

“We are favorable to continuing another year with Grota. We think this is a difficult time to look at changing,” said Barg. “We have a $112 million request for exemption from Marshfield Clinic. I know Jim has been working on this for a couple of years and he’s got a lot of information and background on it. There are some other cases coming down the road that we think would be best not to change in the next 12 months.”

Alderman Ed Wagner expressed some misgivings he had about assessing services the City is currently receiving.

“I need to hear from the people who are directly involved with this as to what’s the worst that could happen, what do we need, how do we improve services,” said Wagner. “At this point, I’m not ready to make a recommendation but I’m certainly willing to listen to anybody else’s opinion on this.”

Barg added that one of the challenges the City might face is finding an in-house person to oversee assessing.

“There are fewer people going into the assessing field,” said Barg.

“I’ve always preferred in-house, if possible,” said Witzel. “I think it’s a great opportunity for folks to grow into that position. I also think that when you are looking at in-house, it’s probably cheaper…I guess I would love to see at some point… at the very least, I’d like to see RFP just because we’ve had some concerns and I’d like to know what else is out there.”

Witzel added that the biggest complaint staff receives from residents is related to assessed values and property taxes.

The Committee approve a motion to go out for RFP and the topic will be further discussed at a future meeting.

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