Kent Value Up 6.8 Nears 20B

    GRAND RAPIDS — The new equalized value for real and personal property in Kent County is $19.9 billion, up 6.8 percent, or $1.3 billion, from the 2002 figure of $18.6 billion.

    “It was just a great year,” said David Jager, equalization director for Kent County.

    The assessed value of agricultural property in the county rose at a higher rate than commercial, industrial and residential properties over the past two years, while the value of personal property declined by nearly 1 percent over the same period.

    The equalized value for farmland jumped by 43 percent from 2001 to this year, while residential properties in the county grew by 18 percent over those two years.

    Overall, the equalized value of real and personal property rose by nearly 16 percent during the past 24 months.

    In fact, the last four years have been pretty good, as the county has recorded a steady climb of 25 percent in state equalized value since 2000.

    The 2003 number is up 15.7 percent from the 2001 number of $17.2 billion, and up by 25 percent from the $15.9 billion figure of 2000 — the year the stock market began its swan dive.

    The county’s taxable value rose by $503 million from last year and stands at slightly more than $16.9 billion, an increase of 17.4 percent from the 2000 figure of $14.4 billion.

    Jager told members of the Finance and Physical Resources Committee last week that his numbers were preliminary and the equalization report would go to county commissioners this week.

    The value for real property in the 21 townships and nine cities across the county was just over $18 billion, while personal property was assessed at $1.86 billion.

    Residential properties in the county were assessed at $12.48 billion, while commercial land was listed at $3.57 billion.

    An ongoing difficulty for the county is assessing farmland, listed at $286.4 million in the report. Jager said landowners interested in selling to developers want higher assessments. But those who wish to continue farming the land want lower ones. And the county is caught in the middle.

    “We feel like we’re a bungee cord stuck between the competing interests,” he said.

    Jager also noted that much of the county’s farmland is being sold for development.

    “Someone asked me what was the No. 1 crop in Kent County. I told them it was septic tanks,” he said.

    Jager said the Consumer Price Index was 1.5 percent for the past year, less than half of the 3.2 percent recorded the previous year.           

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