Assessors office request for assistance still under consideration
At their Feb. 12 meeting, county commissioners did not
disagree with the notion that the Assessor’s Office has a lot of work
to do or that keeping more detailed property records is a good idea,
but they weren’t ready at their February 12 county board meeting to
grant Assessor Betty Schultz’s request for a new position in the
The Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR) requires that counties
assess at least one-fifth of their properties – called a quintile –
each year so that all properties get assessed at least every five
years. The DOR is in the process of conducting a review of all
Minnesota assessor offices to gauge compliance.
Cook County has not been able to meet the quintile requirement for
years, and Assessor Schultz is trying to figure out how her department
is going to do it. She said the DOR has told her the county must be
in compliance within five years. “It’s a serious responsibility,” she
said. “Right now we cannot meet the requirements at the current level
In addition to increasing the number of assessments the department
will be doing each year, the county board has authorized Schultz to
gather more detailed information on all properties and implement a new
computer system to track that information.
The onsite assessment will involve measuring land elevations, views,
access, lakeshore footage, roadways, tillable soils, water, sewer, and
electric utilities, and buildings, including quality, condition, story
heights, open vault areas, age, decks and porches, differing uses
(commercial, industrial, residential, etc.), and percentage finished.
However, getting all of the information on one-fifth of the properties
a year and entering it into the computer system will take time.
Assessor Schultz said she believes they should be fiscally responsible
but wants to do what’s in the best interest of the county as a whole.
Auditor-Treasurer Powers noted that former assessor Ted Mershon
implemented GIS technology in order to add efficiency to their work.
The county now has two GIS employees working in the Information
Last spring, former assessor Mary Black was one of several department
heads who requested that the board spend $187,000 for aerial
photographs of Cook County’s private property. She told the board
that aerial imagery aids them in classifying properties, saving them
from having to walk through undeveloped land. The board approved that
At the county board meeting, the board passed a motion authorizing a
task force to work with the assessor on the staffing issue and come
back to the board with a recommendation. The task force will consist
of commissioners Bruce Martinson and Jan Hall, Auditor-Treasurer
Powers, Personnel Director Janet Simonen, and Assessor Schultz.