Efficiently finding value despite the big “divide” in Mohave County, AZ
Living Area Additions Found
Many American counties are divided by rivers, lakes or other natural breaks in the flow of land. However, few must overcome not only those obstacles, but also the mother of all divides – the Grand Canyon. Mohave County, Arizona, the fifth largest county in the United States, holds the special distinction and challenge of being bifurcated by the Grand Canyon, making the work of canvassing this sprawling county an arduous, time-consuming endeavor.
Bordering the Mohave Desert in northwestern Arizona, Mohave County has its share of property assessment challenges. Just 14.3 percent of the land is privately owned in a patchwork pattern amid sprawling national parks, reservations and state lands. To canvass property in northern Mohave in person, an assessment team member must actually leave the state and drive through Nevada and Utah to get there.
Like everyone, Assessors have budgets and must manage the costs of their work. Making ground visits to assess the more than 250,000 parcels of privately-owned land and structures peppered across Mohave would take an army of people. For those setting out to canvass from the south side of the Grand Canyon, the many hours driving and travel costs add up. Beyond those difficulties, Mohave has a number of riverfront properties where homeowners have focused their improvements on the water side of the house – difficult for assessors to access without boats. Finally, while the permitting process adds insights into property changes, those records are frequently incomplete. The assessment team knew properties were “escaping” the tax rolls.
Mohave Assessor Jeanne Kentch worked to untether her operations from the ground and took flight with EagleView in 2017, and again in 2020. Using EagleView’s aerial imagery and technology, her office has reviewed over 90% of the county’s 116,000 improved parcels. Mohave found and added over $95 million in market value, which translates into tax revenue increases of $352,000 annually. Of the properties assessed, the assessor’s office notes that 10% added value, 2% removed value and 88% were unchanged.
“We were missing value,” she noted. “Between access challenges to river front property, the time and expense of skirting the Canyon to get to the North side, and not being aware of non-permitted improvements and, as important, the sheds, garages and other property our residents removed, it was a real struggle to meet our obligation to keep our tax records fair and equitable while remaining within our budget. Uniform and fair assessments for all property owners is what our job is all about. It’s not fair to tax people who get a permit and not those who don’t, and our county residents understand that.”
Ms. Kentch also has to consider the safety of her appraisers. “While manual canvassing is still necessary for some properties, with EagleView images we can do more on a routine basis from the desktop and that gives us time to get the manual work done safely and thoroughly.”
Annual Tax Revenue Increase
Living Area Additions Found