Compiling The Assessment Roll
The tax bills that Napa County property owners will receive in mid-July (unsecured) and late October (secured) are based on values compiled by assessor office staff during the prior fiscal year. The deadline for the assessor to complete the local roll of assessed values is June 30. This roll is based on events that occurred between January 1 and December 31 of the year prior to that June deadline. Because assessor staff cannot begin working on the new roll until July 1 each year, there is already six months of work backlogged when the new cycle begins. The workload described below must be done in a careful and thorough manner to insure that the assessment roll is both accurate and fair.
Changes to the annual assessment roll are caused by one or more of the following components: 1) real property (land and structures) value changes caused by changes in ownership or new construction; 2) annual revaluation of personal property including business equipment, boats and aircraft; 3) calculation of restricted values under the California Land Conservation (Williamson Act); 4) granting exemptions to eligible homeowners, disabled veterans and submitting religious and charitable organizations exemptions to the State Board of Equalization for approval; 5) assessing possessory interests to holders of exclusive rights to non-taxable property such as hangars at the Napa County Airport and employee housing at Napa State Hospital and the Veterans Home; 6) determining values of property which may have suffered declines in value because of real estate market conditions or natural disasters; 7) changes to assessor parcel configurations by parcel map or lot line adjustment; 8) processing vine reports from vineyard owners and, finally, 9) applying the required Proposition 13 inflation factor not to exceed 2 per cent to properties which have not otherwise had a value change.
These tasks are performed by the joint effort of all 23 members of the assessor staff, as well as our state-of-the-art computer system. Our transfer mapping staff tracks changes in ownership (approximately 4240 for the 2001 roll) and in parcel configurations (approximately 400) by reviewing deeds recorded with or maps filed with the Napa County Recorder and other sources. Once a change in ownership has been established or a new parcel has been created, the computer system generates a worksheet which goes to the appraisal staff to determine the change in value. To track new construction, support staff enter permit information received from the County and municipalities (approximately 5947 permits) into the computer which again produces a worksheet for valuation. The appraisal staff reviews the permit information and makes property inspections as required to arrive at either a construction-in-progress or final value for the new construction. The new values set by the appraisers are reviewed by senior staff and then entered into the computer system by assessment support staff.
Support staff also update our list of boats, aircraft and businesses in Napa County as of January 1 each year. Primary sources for these personal property owners are the California Department of Motor Vehicles and marinas for boats (approximately 1950); Napa County and Angwin airports for aircraft (approximately 235) and business license lists and tenant rosters for businesses (approximately 5200 for the 2001 roll). These owners are sent forms to report the condition and cost of their property. These forms are then processed by our Auditor-Appraisers and other staff using computerized valuation tables to arrive at values for the assessment roll.
The tax bills that Napa County property owners will receive in mid-July (unsecured) and late October (secured) which cover the tax year July 1 through June 30 are based on values compiled by assessor office staff during the prior fiscal year. The tax roll is based on valuation changes from events that occurred between January 1 and December 31 of the year prior to the fiscal year for which taxes are paid. The workload described below must be done in a careful and thorough manner by all 23 members of the assessor staff to insure that the roll is both accurate and fair.
Each year our computer system must apply the Proposition 13 mandated inflation adjustment to those parcels which have not changed ownership to create the factored base year value. While this sounds simple, it requires careful work on the part of staff to insure that, if only a partial interest in the property changed hands, the inflation adjustment is applied only to the portion of the property that did not change hands. Also with new construction, we must be careful to apply the inflation adjustment only to the base year portion of the property because the new construction will carry its own base year and does not receive a current inflation adjustment if completed between July 1 and December 31.
On a three-year cycle we mail (except for California Land Conservation (Williamson) Act parcels which we mail annually) reporting forms to approximately 2100 owners of vineyard parcels. There are multiple blocks of vines on most parcels which means approximately 10,000 individual assessments. Changes such as vines being pulled and re-planted and additions or removals of non-living improvements, such as stakes, wires, drip irrigation, etc. must be entered into our vine report database to insure that owners are accurately assessed.
Each of our 682 Williamson Act parcels must be reviewed each year to compare the restricted value based on capitalization of agricultural income to the factored Proposition 13 base year value so that the lower value can be enrolled. This effort usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for at least one appraiser and one support staff member. The net result is that 506 parcels under contract have a reduction of approximately $256 million in assessed value (or 2% of the $12.55 billion total roll) with the other contract parcels being assessed at their Proposition 13 factored base year value.
There are 304 assessments for individuals or entities who have possessory interests, i.e. the exclusive use of non-taxable property such as hangars at the Napa County airport and employee residences at Bothe State Park, Napa State Hospital and the California Veterans Home. Also the resorts at Lake Berryessa are subject to possessory interests because they are located on Federal land. Each non-taxable entity which leases or rents such interests reports new, current and expired leases to us each February. Each of these interests must be valued according to when the occupancy started and how long the possession is anticipated to last.
Finally, the California Constitution provides exemptions for homeowners (approximately 22,000), 100% disabled veterans (approx. 101), charitable, private educational and welfare entities (approx. 178) and religious institutions (approx. 88). With the exception of homeowners and most religious entities, other exemption claimants must notify us annually of any changes in their status. Cumulatively, exemptions remove approximately $550 million in assessed value, or approximately 3%, from the total roll (the homeowner exemptions are reimbursed to the County by the State).
Should you have any other questions please contact Napa County Assessor John Tuteur at 707.253.4459 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.