By Mari Radtke
Seth Postma accepted the O’Brien County Assessor’s position in 2019 after a lengthy search that followed the retirement of O’Brien County’s following the brief tenure in the seat by Wesley Ray and long time assessor, Lowell Dykstra. Since accepting the position Postma, a Sanborn, Iowa native, has busied himself with a overwhelming project – to reassess the residential properties in O’Brien County. The undertaking has not occurred in decades and, according to Postma, “equalizes” the assessment values across properties.
The assessor’s office has done some of the reevaluating. Postma explains that the project takes a long time. He says that a property needs to be seen, not just on the outside but also to see the inside. Things like finished basements, age of flooring or appliances make a difference in evaluating the assessment value of a residential property.
Postma explained how neighboring counties hired outside organizations to conduct the assessing process or simply apply a percentage increase across the board. He doesn’t feel the equal percentage change is fair. An example he shared is when 2 homes in the same neighborhood have the same square footage, are about the same age with both having updated windows and siding but one has a finished basement and one does not, yet both get assessed at the same value, that is not a fair assessment.
Some communities in O’Brien County have had the residential properties reassessed. Postma has found the task incredibly time consuming and has worked with his board to hire an additional person for the assessor’s office. The cost to hire an outside agency, perhaps over a million dollars, leaves the assessor’s department completely at the mercy of the agency, no control, no deadlines. While the project can take several years to complete, the agency may not be as responsive to the timeliness as an employee might. He believes it is better to conduct the project under his control, not an outside agency’s.
Responding to the need to completely reassess the county’s residential properties, Postma is creating a position to help carry out this goal. The Residential Field Appraiser position will be a permanent position with Postma saying that there will be work for this person even after the reassessment project is complete.
Applications are being accepted for the newly created position. To learn more about the position and how to apply go to obriencounty.iow.gov/assessor.
By Mari Radtke