Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Gogebic County property values rise


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Bessemer — Members of the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners received good and bad news last week regarding the equalized valuation of county property for 2023.

The report was presented by Kathy Jo Koval, the county’s equalization director.

She told the commission that the grand total of the equalized value of the county’s real and personal property is $862,640,503. The good news is that it includes an increase of $99,255,512 over 2022. Koval said that amounts to “a 13% increase over last year.”

The breakdown of this year’s county-wide valuations shows $765,027, 738 for total real property and $97,612,765 for total personal property.

Real property is defined as immovable, including land and anything attached to it, while personal property is defined as movable items such as cars, boats, furniture, etc.

She also provided a chart of the related numbers, which shows that a grand total of 708,480 county acres were assessed, with nine breakdowns for the three cities of Bessemer, Wakefield and Ironwood and the six townships of Bessemer, Wakefield, Charter Ironwood, Erwin, Marenisco and Watersmeet.

Watersmeet Township has the highest total of real property valuation with $243,567,696 for 161,920 acres, next to the second highest of $143,986,445 in Charter Ironwood Township with 112,704 acres. Together, they constitute half the equalized — equivalent to assessed — value of the entire county. Meanwhile, their combined acres of 274,624 comprise just over one-third of the county total.

Combinations of cities with corresponding townships show a different level of comparison. When the city of Ironwood is combined with the townships of Charter Township and Erwin, the total equalized value of real property is $269,872,063 for 147,200 acres, which exceeds Watersmeet Township by $26,304,367 in value even though the latter has 14,720 more acres.

Likewise, equalized value of real property in the city and township of Bessemer totals $96,014,600 with 76,800 acres, whereas the total for the city and township of Wakefield is $65,884,677 with 121,280 acres.

Marenisco Township, which is the state’s second largest township in size, has the greatest number of acres in Gogebic County with 201,280. Its equalized value of real property is $89,688,702.

A comparison of the county’s east and west sides shows that the combination of equalized value of real property in Marenisco and Watersmeet townships totals $333,256,398 or nearly half the county’s total value. Likewise, the total acreage of those townships is 363,200, which is just over half of the county’s total.

Due to the increase in equalized or assessed value of county land, Commissioner Daniel Siirila asked how much more the county will get in corresponding property taxes.

“We are going to generate more money,” said Koval while stopping short of predicting precisely how much.

“But then we also will face the Headlee Rollback of 7.9%,” she said by way of delivering the bad news. “So they give it to us and they take it away.”

In relation to how Gogebic County compares with other regions in Michigan, Koval also reported, “The whole state is up 5%.” She expects that rise to repeat again next year.

Koval also noted that property in this region is selling well.

“A lot of people are selling their houses for a lot more than what they think they’re worth,” she said. “There’s a lot of homes that I wouldn’t pay $10,000 for, but they’re selling them for $25,000. They’re flipping them.”

She also pointed out how fickle values can be in relation to perception. “I might think my house is worth $200,000,” she said while adding that it’s really only worth what the buyer is willing to pay.

During the April 12 meeting, commissioners voted to approve and file Koval’s report after addressing the required signatures.

In other news, Judge Michael Pope of Michigan’s 32nd Circuit Court introduced Jennifer Whitburn, the county’s juvenile officer probation supervisor.

Pope said that Whitburn works with the Michigan Juvenile Justice Assessment System, which helps to assess risk among youth.

“We actually tailor their needs,” said Pope, explaining that the program allows Whitburn and her staff to determine given needs and then create customized programs — hence, allowing each person to be treated as an individual.

During that session, Commissioner George Peterson III emphasized the need to address gun violence “It seems like it just keeps getting pushed down the road,” he said.

Commissioner Joseph Bonovetz noted a statewide shortage in juvenile beds, and Siirila added that mental health, in general, is “what’s broke.”

In a separate issue, board members also voted to send a “strongly worded” letter to the city of Bessemer, requesting that its staff expedite remediation of another flooding incident within the Gogebic County Natural Resource Center, where sewer and water had been disconnected while the issue was being assessed.

All votes at the April 12 meeting were unanimous with all members present.

The board’s next regular meeting will be on April 26 at 5 p.m. in the Gogebic County Courthouse.