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Vacant lots boost Pottawatomie County’s property sales

By The Mercury

February was another good month for property sales in Pottawatomie County.

In her monthly update to county commissioners Monday, Appraiser Lois Schlegel reported 49 property sales last month—well above the three previous Februarys.

“We’ve had a big run on vacant lots and that’s very encouraging,” Schlegel told commissioners. Sales of vacant lots indicate an increase in new construction, she said, noting that the county issued 502 building permits in 2012

February’s property sales included 19 residential, two commercial, 23 vacant lots and four farmsteads or ag land, according to Schlegel.

“We don’t have the highs and lows we’ve had the last three years,” Schlegel pointed out. “It’s been pretty steady and our January and February have been a lot better than the last three years.”

Schlegel also reviewed her department’s sales ratio history from the State Property Valuation Division. To remain in compliance, the PVD requires property appraisals to fall within a range of 90 to 110 percent of actual sale value.

For residential property, the median ratio for 2012 was 99.9 percent.

“That’s about as perfect as you can get it,” Schlegel told commissioners.

The median ratio for commercial property, however, was 79.9 percent for 2012.

“That’s not so good but we had only nine valid sales to go on,” Schlegel said, noting that the PVD understands that more sales are required to determine a accurate median ratio.

Schlegel also discussed the status of “trade fixture” legislation introduced in the state legislature.

A “trade fixture” is equipment or fixtures which heretofore has been included in the appraisal of property, primarily manufacturing facilities, Schlegel said. The proposed legislation would exempt trade fixtures from property appraisal and would impact revenues of local taxing districts.

“It could possibly affect Jeffrey Energy Center in the long run if it goes through,” Schlegel said.

The Westar power plant located in Emmett Township accounts for a sizeable portion of property tax revenues for Pottawatomie County.

Schlegel said the proposed legislation remains “below the line” for consideration by the full legislature.

In other business Monday:

• The commission approved a contract with Cook, Flatt & Strobel for required inspection of 261 county bridges at $65 per bridge, or $16,965. The inspection is federally mandated every two years.

• Leu Lowrey, public works director, said he received word Friday the county would receive state funding to modify the intersection of John Scott Rd. just north of U.S. Highway 24 on Flush Rd. The county has wanted to cut down the hill at the intersection to improve visibility.

• Andrea Karnes, office manager for the county attorney, said the office received 80 reports in January and 90 in February from area law enforcement agencies.

“Our case filings are down a little bit,” Karnes said, noting that many of the cases involved mental illness, juveniles or drugs.

• Chris Trudo, emergency management director, said all but one storm siren in the county was operational during the most recent test March 5.

The siren at Westmoreland failed to rotate during the test, but the problem will be fixed soon, Trudo said.

• The commission approved three rezoning requests as recommended by the County Planning Commission and presented by John Keller, county planner.

The rezonings included a 19-acre tract at the intersection of Flush Road and Walker, from agricultural to residential; a 6.15-acre tract north of Wamego from agricultural to ag residential; and a residence on Kaw Valley Rd. from commercial to residential.

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