February 2020
It is that time of year once again where the county appraiser sends out valuation notices to those property owners that will see some adjustment in their appraised value. I am cringing already because I can anticipate the frustration of most property owners.

On one hand, we want our property to appreciate on the free market, right? At the same time, we know that higher assessed value usually means more property taxes.

First, let me sympathize with you. Property taxes are clearly the most despised form of taxation. In a sense, it is as if you can never really own property because you have to pay the government every year to continue to own it, even if you own it. The right to own property is rooted in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. To me, I wish there was no such thing as property taxes.

Even though the county appraiser is a County employee, they actually report to the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR). Their mission is to turn subjective estimates into objective valuations. There is intentional separation between elected officials who spend precious property tax dollars and the work of the county appraiser. The entire appraisal process is driven by state level standards, state laws, and comes with oversight from KDOR. 

Four steps determine your property taxes. First, the appraiser has the responsibility to determine the value of each property. Each parcel value represents a small percentage of the jurisdictions overall assessed valuation. Second, the taxing jurisdictions pass their annual budgets. Third, the county clerk calculates a mill levy rate (or the rate of taxation) that will deliver the total revenue needed to fund those budgets from the overall assessed valuation. Finally, the county treasurer uses the parcel valuation and the mill levy rate to calculate how much tax each parcel owner must pay and they mail those tax bills.

As the appraiser adjusts property valuations each year, the result simply shifts the tax obligation between property owners. If every property changed (up or down) by the same percentage AND the governing bodies passed a dollar-level budget, then every property would have the exact same tax bill as last year. Valuation alone will not determine whether your taxes will grow. It is a combination between the revenue needed to fund the budgets that elected leaders adopt, divided among the parcels according to their value.

Our county appraiser internally targets 95% of ‘Fair Market Value’ for every property. Last year, Sedgwick County’s Appraisal/Sales ratio dipped below the 90% threshold once again meaning we are out of compliance. That means there will be another course correction to bring this ratio back above 90%. Pragmatically, here is what you need to know: for residential properties, 16% had no change in value, 3% had a decrease in value averaging 5%, and 81% had an increase in value averaging 6%. Change in value notices will be mailed on March 1, 2020 to the 174,000 (or 78%) or parcel owners.

If you want to make an appeal, I strongly encourage you to do so. You can find information on how to do that by calling (316) 660-9000.

Use the My Local Taxes mapping tool to see how much the various jurisdictions are taxing each property or to see those taxes in a graphical format or find links to the property appraisal or tax informational pages. 
ICT-1: Where are we now? 
The joint City/County Integrated Care Team (ICT -1) has responded to more than 250 calls in the Wichita area since its launch in late 2019. A pilot program, ICT-1 is a collaboration between COMCARE, Sedgwick County EMS, Wichita Police Department, and Wichita Fire Department that operates from 2 p.m. until midnight, Tuesdays through Friday.
After reviewing the current data, the team was able to treat 51 percent of calls where there was a client at the scene; additional agencies were called in to care for the client about 18 percent of the time; and clients were transported to various community resources including area hospitals nearly 31 percent of the time.
ICT-1 is designed to improve operational efficiencies and officials estimate that more than 375 public safety units were available to respond to other calls for service.
Leadership will continue finding ways to document care on one central platform and rotate members in three teams to ensure that participating employees stay current in their respective fields outside of ICT-1. 
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition Moving Forward
City and County elected officials recently received a report from the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coalition outlining its five-year strategic plan. The Coalition's work began in earnest in 2019 by bringing together leaders from law enforcement, health care, behavioral health programs, education, nonprofits, and private business. These agencies had been working on mental health, substance abuse, and homeless separately for years.
The final strategic plan identified a comprehensive vision statement, an aspirational mission statement, and achievable goals for the Coalition. The first priority identified was increased support for individuals (high utilizers) who are experiencing homelessness and a mental health crisis, and have substance abuse history.
Now formally organized, the Coalition will be able to create policies, measure benchmarks, and focus resources in our community to address needs using best practices. Moving forward, the group will also work on facilitating access to care, coordination of services throughout the continuum of care, funding, and workforce demands.
2021 Budget Development Underway
This month, the Board of County Commissioners and County leaders met to begin shaping Sedgwick County’s 2021 budget. They reviewed the area’s financial forecast, Sedgwick County’s forecast, and the impact of the Mortgage Registration Fee on the County budget. Commissioners also received an update on the County’s employee compensation analysis and the impact of State funding over the past decade.

Departmental budget hearings are tentatively slated for May. The Recommended Budget is scheduled to be released July 15. There will be two public hearings (9 a.m., Wednesday, July 22 and 6 p.m., Monday, August 3). Commissioners are expected to adopt the budget on Wednesday, August 12.  
Appraiser’s Report: 2020 Real Property Value Trends
At a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting, County Appraiser Mark Clark shared the 2020 Annual Real Estate Mass Appraisal Report. From 2019 to 2020 there were 1,835 new parcels appraised, covering residential parcels, commercial parcels and agricultural parcels. When compared to years past, the Appraiser’s data showed some challenges for the housing market in Sedgwick County.

Building permit applications are down compared to previous years due to tight labor markets and the need for more workers in the construction industry. Despite that, there were 1,177 new homes built in in Sedgwick County in 2019, including duplexes and triplexes. The median home sale price was $169,900 and most homes were on the market less than one month before selling. Clark said this indicates a strong imbalance between the supply and demand of residences.

Residential property represented about 57 percent of the total assessed value in Sedgwick County in 2019. While the Appraiser’s Office takes a conservative approach to the valuation of properties, the Appraiser said 81 percent of residential property owners saw a slight to moderate increase in property values over the last year.

Commercial and agricultural property valuations also increased in 2019. Fifty-three percent of commercial properties’ rose in value, while one-third of all agriculture properties increased by 29 percent. When calculating appraisals for ag properties, the Appraiser’s Office uses land valuations established by the Kansas Department of Revenue, which sets the value of ag land for the whole state. As of 2019, less than one percent of the total assessed land in Sedgwick County was devoted to agriculture. 

Property appraisal information will be available March 1 both online and at the Appraiser’s Office. Value notices will only be mailed to property owners who experience a change in appraised value or classification in 2019. Property owners who wish to appeal their valuations have 30 days from the date listed on the front of the notice to submit their intent to appeal.

Contact  Commissioner Jim Howel l: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203