Advocating for Commercial Property Owners and Managers – Challenging County’s Assessed Property Values

At my request, St. Louis County Administrator Kevin Gray and I met yesterday afternoon. We discussed the business community’s concern regarding the recently released assessed values for downtown commercial properties.
I admire and respect Kevin Gray. He is a talented and trustworthy leader. Consequently, I believed him when he assured me that he is thoroughly reviewing the work recently completed by the County Assessor’s Office. He also promised that he would communicate to the business community, regarding the assessed values, within the week.
I am pleased to share with you the following letter from Kevin Gray, which was sent to me earlier today. I trust it will be valuable to you as you decide how best to proceed as you interact with St. Louis County’s decision-makers. I applaud Kevin for his quick action.
David Ross, President & CEO   
Kevin Z. Gray
County Administrator
David Ross, President & CEO
Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce
5 West 1st Street
Duluth, MN 55802
May 9, 2018
Dear David:
I am writing to you with hopes you will share this with the business community you serve.
St. Louis County is very aware of the concerns raised by the downtown business community regarding the recent notices of Estimated Market Value sent by our Assessor’s Office. We are listening to these concerns expressed by you and many others, and are taking action.
The constant goal of our Assessor’s Office is to be timely, uniform and fair. Unfortunately, in this instance, we did not achieve these goals. After receiving much appreciated feedback related to the valuation notices, we have reviewed the affected properties in the downtown commercial reassessment area. This review identified several issues in calculations that resulted in inappropriately high estimated market values for many of these properties.
We are committed to make this right and to restore your confidence in our appraisal process. Our assessor team is in the process of revisiting valuations of downtown properties; while looking at longer term solutions to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
In the meantime, we want to help you preserve your rights to appeal, and so recommend you take the following actions:
  • Call the County Assessor’s Office at 218-726-2304 so that we may address any questions that you have as well as any concerns with your estimated market value.
  • Make an appointment for the City of Duluth Local Board of Appeal and Equalization by calling 218-730-5350.  That meeting is scheduled for May 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers.  If you are unable to attend that meeting, written appeals may be sent to:  City Treasurer, 411 W 1st Street, Room 105, Duluth, MN 55802.  Please be aware that all values are subject to percentage changes by the State Board of Equalization.
On behalf of the county, I regret the concerns and inconvenience this has caused. We value our downtown Duluth businesses and the contributions they make to the fabric of our county, and will make every effort to ensure better service from us in the future.
Kevin Z. Gray, St. Louis County Administrator