Jim Young Fills Role Left by Retired Joan Spencer

With property tax payments due this week, it is an opportune time to introduce the City of Marshfield’s new assessor (who took Joan Spencer’s place after her retirement). Jim Young, Special Projects & Commercial Appraiser for Grota Appraisals LLC in Menomonee Falls WI, is the acting City Assessor (on behalf of Mike Grota/Grota Appraisals LLC) for the City of Marshfield. A certified Assessor 2 by the WI Dept. of Revenue and a Certified Residential Appraiser (#606) by the WI Dept. of Safety and Professional Services, Young brings an extensive background to his role here.

Jim Young

His professional background in real estate began with an initial stint as an independent construction contractor doing rough carpentry work on commercial buildings and subdivision developments in the San Diego CA area from 1984 to 1986.

He then worked for Barta Appraisals in Waukesha WI as a Certified Residential Appraiser (#606) off and on from the spring of 1986 through the summer of 1994. (During that time, he also completed a BA in History and Secondary Social Studies Teaching License at UW-Milwaukee.)

Beginning in the fall of 1994, he worked for the City of Madison WI Assessor’s Office for five years, until being hired as the new Assistant Assessor for the City of Sun Prairie WI. Then from 2002 through 2008, he served as the City Assessor for the City of Sun Prairie, planning and administering three revaluation projects as the City more than doubled in parcel count. During this time, he also learned more about commercial assessment valuation and overall Wisconsin assessment administration responsibilities.

In the summer of 2008, he began working for Grota Appraisals LLC based in Menomonee Falls WI, working on multiple revaluation projects for WI Cities and Villages, commercial property valuations, and administering Assessor’s Offices in several new client communities.

In January 2012, he was hired as an Equalization Supervisor for the WI Department of Revenue overseeing their Madison District Office. In the winter of 2014, his family moved to Pender County NC to attend to a family assistance matter. During that time, he worked as both a Commercial Appraiser in the New Hanover County Assessor’s Office for a county-wide revaluation project and as a co-owner of a new organic family farm operation. He returned to Wisconsin last winter after being offered a job with Grota Appraisals LLC again.

“As such, I have been active in the real estate appraisal and assessment field for over 27 years,” said Young. “Primarily I enjoy the challenges and opportunities inherent in the civic responsibilities associated with assessment work. I also love building architecture and discovering the history of how buildings have been used.”

A math, statistics, and analysis enthusiast, Young enjoys looking at appraisal assignments from the challenges perspective as well as working with and for other community members from an opportunities perspective.

“Not too many property owners enjoy the thought of or activity of having to pay property taxes annually, so I like the responsibility of completing assessment administrative and valuation work assignments using professional best practices and conducting my work in an equitable and fair manner,” he said. “Additionally, with having a coaching and teaching background, I enjoy the opportunity to provide information to the public about the administration of the Assessor’s Office for a community, as well as working with the other ‘municipal team members’ in fulfilling our civic responsibilities.”

Why Assessments are Necessary

Assessments established for real estate parcels and business personal property asset accounts are used as the basis for setting mill rates and distributing the property tax burden in Wisconsin.

Within that scenario, the goals of professional assessment work include: establishing accurate estimates of value for each property according to a valuation model based on comparable sales analysis, income analysis (for income producing properties) and cost analysis according to the class of property (commercial, residential, agricultural, etc.) and making sure that the valuations are also both fair (representative of the market as of a specified date) and equitable (similar assessments for similar type properties).

Assessment work also needs to be completed in a timely manner so that annual reports to the State of Wisconsin are received as required by law to help determine annual state aids and so that the various governmental entities that levy taxes (municipal, county, school board, technical college, and state) can have finalized total assessments each year to use in budget deliberations and final decisions.

Although individual assessments may not be reviewed and updated each year, it is important to review the physical changes that occur to properties each year to determine if assessments on those properties need to be updated to maintain that fairness and equity.

“We conduct inspections of properties that have had sales or permit work completed within the year so we can measure levels of assessment and maintain the accuracy of our records and the equity in assessments,” explained Jim Young, acting City Assessor (on behalf of Mike Grota/Grota Appraisals LLC) for the City of Marshfield.

The City of Marshfield purchased the Market Drive PC assessment software system from Assessment Technologies of Wisconsin in fall 2016 to update their assessment administration capabilities. Created by a Wisconsin-based assessor, Mike Grota, and used by more than 70% of the municipalities in Wisconsin, the software system is being constantly maintained and updated to conform to the latest requirements dictated by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and best practices suggestions received from their client users.

Based on the finalized annual assessment roll data stored in Market Drive PC by client users, there is an accompanying internet access property lookup portal at www.AssessorData.org.

Anyone with internet access can look up the basic property record data for any individual real estate property on AssessorData.org for any Market Drive PC client community. After first selecting the appropriate County and Municipality, searches can be conducted using either parcel numbers or street addresses. (As with many other internet lookup tools, there is not an ability to search by owner name.

“This decision was made by its developer in part to address both stated privacy concerns and personal safety concerns,” said Young. “Searchers will find assessment record data for the last completed assessment roll as finalized by the local Board of Review.”

By clicking on the “View Details” button from the search results screen, basic parcel data is displayed including: tax key number, property address, an abbreviated legal description, acres, primary building description, primary building size, year built, presence of additional structures, last permit date, last valid sale date, and assessed value of both land and building improvements.

A subsequent click on the “View Full Report” button produces a .pdf report of the more expansive public property record which includes a photo, a sketch and more information on additional building characteristics.

“I was not involved in the City’s discussion or decision to make the change to the Market Drive PC system and accompanying AssessorData.org public website interface, but I was told that the decision was mostly based on the fact that the prior assessment software system had not been maintained by its creator/owner since the early 2000s,” said Young.

“Users of that system, including the prior Marshfield City Assessor, had to conduct most statistical analysis outside of that system, create the required reports for the State and Counties via other software, and hand enter most mass data updates into that system related to new parcels, new ownership, sales transfers, and building permit activity. As such, per the recommendations of the City Assessor and the City IT Director, the change to Market Drive PC system moving forward was determined to be the best option for software functionality and support services available in the market.”

Young added that migrating to the new Market Drive PC software system and accompanying AssessorData.org property lookup feature is and will be beneficial to the residents and property owners in Marshfield in many ways.

“Hands-on for City residents, the AssessorData.org site is accessible 24/7 and easy to use,” he said. “Additionally, during the annual Open Book session, the pending property assessment roll records and proposed assessments to be presented to the Board of Review are made available on AssessorData.org for easy access so property owners don’t have to physically come into the City Hall to personally look up information.”

He added that making property record information accessible on the internet is a basic tool in helping to make government more transparent. AssessorData.org also give community members a way to see how assessments in their community compare with assessments on similar properties in neighboring communities.

“System-wise, converting to a well maintained assessment administration system that is both widely used and respected throughout the state ensures residents that their City staff has the most state-of-the-art and efficient tool for meeting Wisconsin’s professional practices dictates as listed in the Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual and can meet or exceed timelines to conduct their annual tasks and follow through on the annual reporting requirements,” said Young.

“Once practiced and knowledgeable of the system’s features, there are process efficiencies and associated cost savings recognized through its use and maintenance by City staff in all City Departments. These efficiencies and known maintenance features keep annual budget costs and associated taxes levied on property owners down to a minimum while still providing the required services.”

“The staff at Grota Appraisals and Assessment Technologies appreciate the opportunity to work with and for the City of Marshfield within our new assessment administrative duties and in providing our assessment technology resources,” said Young. “Following her decision to retire last year by long-term City Assessor Joan Spencer, the City chose to go to a hybrid system of Assessor’s Office Administration.”

The City kept their regular City Assessor’s Office staff personnel, Property Appraiser and Administrative Assistant, for the coverage of day-to-day annual tasks and office contact coverage, but chose Grota Appraisals LLC in the spring of 2017 to be the new “City Assessor” to administer the office.

Grota Appraisals is a contract assessment firm based in Menomonee Falls WI. Jim Young and Jim Toth from Grota Appraisals are the lead personnel and are on-site at the City of Marshfield at least one day each week. We currently alternate our work days there every other week, but one of us are typically there each Tuesday. During some weeks we are both there or other weeks we spend multiple days there to conduct property field inspections, attend meetings and to address other administrative matters.

Jim Young is the primary contact for Assessor’s Office regarding administration matters or requests and can be reached at (715) 384-3856 or [email protected] Telephone messages left with the Administrative Assistant (press #3) will be addressed almost immediately on most days, but almost always within 24 hours.

Items beyond typical information requests for the Administrative Assistant or Property Appraiser (press #2) will be subsequently forwarded to Jim Young or Jim Toth for immediate attention and will be responded to within 24 hours in most cases pending any out of the office fielding days, typical holidays or other vacation breaks.

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