About Muskegon County Equalization
Established by the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners, in compliance with the General Property Tax Act of the State of Michigan, the Muskegon County Equalization Department, under the direction of Donna VanderVries, is responsible for advising the County Board in regards to property tax base issues. This department is only an advisory agency; consequently, it has no policing or enforcement powers. Its primary responsibility by statute is to:
- Calculate total assessed values for all taxing jurisdictions within the county
- Measure local assessment levels
- Survey local assessed values
- Transmit these findings to the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners in the form of the annual Equalization Report
Formal statutory authority is established by Sec 211.34 (3) of the General Property Tax Act of the State of Michigan, which states:
The county board of commissioners of a county shall establish and maintain a department to survey assessments and assist the board of commissioners in the matter of equalization of assessments, and may employ in that department technical and clerical personnel which in its judgment are considered necessary. The personnel of the department shall be under the direct supervision and control of a director of the tax or equalization department who may designate an employee of the department as his or her deputy. The director of the county tax or equalization department shall be appointed by the county board of commissioners. The county board of commissioners, through the department, may furnish assistance to local assessing officers in the performance of duties imposed upon those officers by this act, including the development and maintenance of accurate property descriptions, the discovery, listing, and valuation of properties for tax purposes, and the development and use of uniform valuation standards and techniques for the assessment of property.
The purpose of equalization is to set the property tax base for the county and helps to ensure that property taxes are levied in a fair and equitable manner.
Each year, under guidelines established by the State Tax Commission, the Equalization Department works with township and city assessors to assure proper equalized values for real and personal property throughout the county.
The Equalization Department’s main purpose is to correct the inequities that may occur between local units of government as a result of under or over assessment of a property class. The Equalization Department does not determine individual assessments, that is the sole responsibility of the local assessor.
Sales & Appraisal Studies
The equalization process is accomplished using sales and appraisal studies performed on individual property classes in each township and city throughout the county.
The results of these sales and appraisal studies are used to determine the true cash value of each property class (residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, developmental, timber cut over, and personal property). The department’s equalization studies are compared to the corresponding property class totals as determined by the assessor for each township and city. If necessary, the department applies a "County Equalization Factor" to those classes that have an "average level" of assessment above or below 50% of true cash value.
The department is also responsible for calculating all millage rollback fractions required by law (e.g. Headlee, Truth in Assessing, Truth in County Equalization, and Truth in Taxation) for all taxing jurisdictions within Muskegon County (i.e. schools, Muskegon Community College, Muskegon Intermediate Schools, Muskegon County, authorities, townships, villages, and cities), as well as tabulating and monitoring taxable values for each taxing jurisdiction. Additionally, the department identifies real property descriptions for the County Treasurer for delinquent taxes.