LANSING, Mich., Sept. 29, 2021 — Last week, state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) introduced House Bill 5329, which would amend the designated assessor requirement so that counties can opt out of keeping a designated assessor on retainer. Under this legislation, counties that opt out will have a designated assessor appointed by the State Tax Commission, but only when one is required. This bill would give counties the flexibility they need to make sure the work of assessing gets done.

“This legislation would do away with the current, one-size-fits-all approach that — as a practical matter — often just does not fit,” Hope said. “My bill would give counties the option to handle the designated assessor requirement in the way that works best for them. Counties that find it difficult to find an assessor could rely on the state to appoint a designated assessor to fulfill the assessing requirement when one is needed. Counties that want to find their own designated assessor can maintain local control.”

Currently, every county is required to have a designated assessor approved by the State Tax Commission. However, some counties have trouble finding assessors to fill that role. Depending on the state equalized value of properties in their jurisdiction, counties may need a Michigan Master Assessing Officer. These highly trained, in-demand professionals can be costly. Another challenge is that the amount of work required of the designated assessor fluctuates depending on how many local units are out of statutory compliance. This uncertainty can make the position difficult for counties to fill.

“Rep. Hope’s legislation giving counties the option to have the State Tax Commission appoint designated assessors will provide counties the much needed assistance in identifying qualified assessors to fulfill the statutory obligations,” said Deena Bosworth, director of government affairs for the Michigan Association of Counties.

“We support local governments having the flexibility to continue to meet the statutory requirements of assessing reform,” said State Tax Commission Chairperson Peggy Nolde.

House Bill 5329 has been referred to the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee.