Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Cook County Connections: Assessor’s Summer 2023 Update & Hovland Property Inspections

Jul 07, 2023 09:06AM ● By Content Editor
Photo provided

From Cook County, MN - July 7, 2023

By: Bob Thompson, Cook County Assessor


On June 13, 2023, the County Board of Appeals & Equalization meeting adjourned, finalizing the 2023 assessment. The final 2023 assessed values show that Cook County’s overall taxable market value increased 14.2% over 2022. On June 26, 2023, the sales ratio study that is administered by the Minnesota Department of Revenue was also finalized and no state board orders were issued for Cook County’s 2023 assessment.


The sales study period used by the Assessor to set assessed values runs from October 1 through September 30 each year. Looking at the sales that have occurred during the first nine months of the 2024 study, the median ratio is currently indicating about a 10% increase would be necessary. The increase in the west end townships of Lutsen and Tofte will likely be higher, currently at about 15%. These numbers will likely change by the time the assessment is completed next spring, as many of these sales have not yet been verified by the assessor’s office and there are still three months of sales remaining in the study period.


With the 2023 assessment in the books, the Cook County Assessor’s Office has begun the process of inspecting properties in our 2024 quintile district, what we call the Hovland/Portage area. Minnesota law requires that assessors inspect properties at least every five years; the Hovland/Portage area was last inspected during the summer of 2019. Any property east of the Kelly’s Hill Road is subject to the 2023 property inspection, including Lost Lake, Tom Lake, Devilfish Lake, and McFarland Lake.

If you own property in the Hovland/Portage area and you’d like to schedule an appointment for this inspection, please call the Cook County Assessor’s Office at 218-387-3650.

During the Assessor’s property inspections, appraisers are verifying the accuracy of the property record and they are looking for changes that have occurred since the most recent visit. In Cook County, some property improvements which do not change the three-dimensional profile of an existing structure are allowed without a land-use permit. Items like kitchen and bathroom remodels, as well as replacing a roof, siding, or windows, likely do not require a land-use permit from the county. These types of updates and upgrades are frequently found during our 5-year property visits. By keeping the property records current, the Assessor’s Office ensures that the tax burden is being fairly distributed amongst Cook County property owners.

Prior to starting a project, please be sure to check with Cook County’s Land Services Department, otherwise there may be an after-the-fact penalty if a permit was required for your project but was not issued.

When an appraiser arrives at a property for their inspection, they first do their best to locate anybody who is present (including pets and wildlife), they will identify themselves and explain the reason for their visit. After the bears have been scared off and the occupants notified, the appraiser will take photos of structures and other site improvements, they will verify some measurements, and they will walk the property taking notes. The appraiser will ask questions about the interior of the structures, to verify that the information we have on record is accurate. If we are lacking interior information, or if it is evident that our information may be outdated, the appraiser will ask to inspect the interior of a structure.

Property owners can decline an interior inspection by the Assessor’s Office, and property owners can ask the appraiser to leave if they do not want them there. When an inspection is declined, appraisers make reasonable assumptions based off the information available, and the property owner cannot appeal their valuation to the County Board until an inspection has been completed.

Why is the Assessor’s Office going back to the Hovland/Portage after only four years?

The county has developed a new quintile inspection plan that will allow us to have an aerial flyover of each quintile area completed in the spring, just before our summer property inspections begin. This meant we had to shuffle our 5-year cycle around so that Grand Marais and the area referred to as ‘Greater Grand Marais’ could be flown at the same time and be inspected by appraisers shortly thereafter. This annual maintenance of our aerial imagery allows staff to utilize current and accurate data while reviewing property records.

Do these 5-year property inspections result in value or tax increases?

In general, property value increases don’t mean that taxes are going to increase. Using a property in Hovland as an example; Available at $379,900 (this property is currently listed 23% over the 2023 assessed value), despite the assessed value of this property going up almost 18% in 2022, the corresponding 2023 property taxes went down by over 7%.

Several property tax relief programs exist for Cook County residents, the Minnesota Property Tax Refund & Renter’s Credit programs, and the senior citizen property tax deferral, to name a few. These programs are for owner-occupied properties with a homestead classification, and individuals that pay rent. One of the refunds is based off income, the other ‘special refund’ is based off the amount of tax increase over the previous year. Talk to your tax professional or visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s website for more information on the M1PR form. This form is due by August 15, but you may be able to file up to one year after the due date.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here