Meeting Minutes

Macomb Assessors Organization-Virtual Meeting

February 9, 2021

Virtual Meeting

The meeting was called to order at: 12:08 pm by President Kimberly Wieczorek.

Officers Present

In Attendance:  Kimberly Wieczorek (President), Sandy Birkenshaw (Treasurer), Jessica Holden (Secretary), Kristen Sieloff (Trustee), Alicia Bernabei (Past President).

Excused:  Marcia Weredick (Vice President), Marcia Magyar-Smith (Trustee).

Minutes

The minutes from the October meeting were previously emailed to all members for review.  A motion to approve the minutes was made by Trustee Kristen Sieloff, supported by Jennifer Czeiszperger. Motion passed.

Treasurer’s Report

General Fund: $4,516.92  Education Fund: $3,877.66  Total: $8,394.58 

A motion to approve of the treasurer’s report as presented was made by Julie Geldhof.  Supported by Mary McKeon.  Motion passed.

Introductions

None

Education

Treasurer Sandy Birkenshaw informed the membership that currently there are no upcoming classes planned until May.  However, she did indicate that there was still a Board of Review class available this evening if any communities needed to have their Board of Review members attend.  She stated this is one of the last for the area right now.   She also asked the membership to contact her if any future classes are needed for anything or if there are suggestions.  

Legislative

Jennifer Czeiszperger briefly discussed House Bill 4054 which concerns the Veteran’s Exemption, specifically aimed at clarifying qualifications and making the process easier for the surviving spouse.  We are currently monitoring this bill, but there should be no issue with this, as we are just looking for the correct verbiage from the VA. 

Ms. Czeiszperger also briefly discussed Senate Bill 46, which would exempt the expansion of broadband into underserved areas.  We are also currently monitoring this one as the verbiage isn’t very clear at this time. 

Equalization Report

Trustee Kristen Sieloff addressed the membership regarding a number of issues and topics. 

She has received a number of inquiries regarding guidance on proper protocol for the upcoming March Board of Review meetings, specifically in relation to whether or not the meetings should be held in person, virtually, etc.  She reminded the membership that it is not the place of the Equalization Department to specify how the local units should proceed in regards to this.  She understands that there has been some confusion surrounding this, especially in light of information that has been disseminated by the MTA and other communities/counties.  She remains hopeful that the STC, which met earlier this morning, will soon be providing guidance regarding this issue.  In the mean time she suggested that each local unit refer to their counsel in order to determine what is appropriate. 

Ms. Sieloff briefly inquired of the membership as to who is currently planning on holding in person MBOR meetings, if any.  She stated that at this point it appears as though two communities are planning on holding in person meetings.  She stressed the importance of ensuring that if holding the meeting(s) virtually, that all of the pertinent information regarding the virtual meeting be included in the notice, as that is obviously something that has never been done or needed prior to the pandemic. 

Ms. Sieloff provided an update on the status of the Designated Assessor.  She stated that the contract was mailed out on time and that 17 out of 23 units approved, which was almost 75% approval, noting that there are only 23 units included rather than 24 due to the inclusion of Grosse Point Shores with Wayne County. It has been communicated to her that as long as no issues are present, the contract will be reviewed by the STC at their April meeting.  She confirmed that Bill Griffin will be the Designated Assessor for the next five years.

Ms. Sieloff provided the membership with information regarding post MBOR reporting. She reminded the membership that last year was somewhat difficult with everything being dropped in, rather than submitted in person, but regardless of that, they are prepared to proceed in this manner once again.  She did indicate to the membership that she and limited members of her staff will be in the office handling the submissions.  She informed the membership that if anyone is interested in submitting their information in person, that option will be available as well.  However, she stressed that there is absolutely no obligation to come in person.  She further asked that anyone planning on coming in person please contact their office to schedule an appointment.  Anyone choosing this option would need to fill out a screening form upon arrival.  It was also mentioned everything is droppable except for the 4626, which is an Excel upload.

She discussed submission sheets, which were sent out last week.  The membership was reminded that for this year, even if renaissance zones have expired you still must run reports both with and without them.  They will then be removed for the following year. She responded to inquiry regarding possible issues with parcel counts in regards to the renaissance zones, stating that while this is the case you will just need to ensure that any difference due to their expiration, etc. is accounted for and that the number is correct.

Trustee Sieloff also addressed possible calculation error reports and their importance, as this report will find any errors that may need to be addressed.  She responded to inquiry, stating that it may be preferable to run/submit this after MBOR, in order to catch any entry issues that may occur after the meeting(s). It was noted that if the new cama data standards have already been proactively incorporated that there would be a difference in parcel count, but that the values should remain without issue. 

It was requested that the membership please only submit the reports that are asked for.  The importance of reviewing them and ensuring that they balance prior to submission was also stressed.  She asked that each assessor or their representative be available for a couple days after submission, as this will ensure that issues can be properly addressed should they arise.  Additionally, if there is an anticipated or scheduled unavailability immediately after submission, she ask that you please communicate that with her, in order for priority to perhaps be given to those submissions.  She concluded by thanking the membership for their patience and cooperation with the process and their requests, as this is the first time they have completed everything in BS&A and converted to one database.

Jeanette Makowiec addressed the membership regarding various issues.  She reminded the membership to please complete the forms for the top twenty taxpayers as sent and submit them, even though they may not necessarily be one of that community’s top twenty. 

Additionally, she asked that if a 5076 exemption is removed from a parcel that a list be provided to her with that information, as the exemption will still be reflected as active in their database. It was noted by the membership that this will be an issue state wide.  Ms. Makowiec responded that unfortunately, despite lengthy communication with BS&A the issue has not yet been addressed. It was noted by Trustee Sieloff that at their last check there were not very many of these instances found countywide.  

Ms. Makowiec requested that a list of split and combines be provided for the upcoming year.  It was noted that the land division comment report would be sufficient for this purpose.  However, a simple list will also suffice.  The list would need to include the parent and child parcels.  She responded to inquiry as to whether the information could be obtained from the county Land File Dept.  Unfortunately, she attempted that avenue, but the information provided is not conducive or practical for their purposes.

The last item Ms. Makowiec addressed was the names and values .txt files.  She stated that previously she would run these reports herself, but this year she is asking that each unit provide those in order to help conserve time and ensure that everything goes smoothly in light of the new conversion to one database.   

Ms. Sieloff reminded the membership that each submission sheet is different.  She added that for those units who have already converted their personal property numbers, you will need to submit both real and personal.  If you have not converted yet, then only your real is going to be submitted.  Again, this will help to streamline the process. 

Old Business

Request for lifetime membership(s):  Motion by Robin Palazzolo to approve a lifetime membership for both Dean Babb and Christine Wendt.  Supported by Julie Geldhof.  Motion passed.

President Wieczorek congratulated Kerry Beauvais on her promotion to Assessor for Chesterfield Township.

New Business/Miscellaneous

The annual golf outing is currently scheduled for Friday June 11th.  As in years past we have once again partnered with the Southeast Chapter, who will be covering the initial deposit.  We will then split the cost/profit with them.  The price will be $90 per person.

Round Table Discussion

President Wieczorek noted that exemptions appear to be a “hot topic” this year and asked if anyone had any input/feedback regarding such. 

Ms. Sieloff mentioned that at the MAED meeting there was discussion regarding the changes to poverty exemptions and that she was somewhat surprised that there are quite a few units who are not going to provide for multiple year exemptions. 

Treasurer Birkenshaw reported that she had spoken with Will Gast regarding the approval of poverty exemptions and veteran’s exemptions at the organizational meeting and he indicated that these should not be approved at the organizational meeting. 

There was inquiry as to whether or not any approval was needed by February 15th if a unit was not incorporating the three year extension for the poverty exemption.  Discussion ensued with several members stating that rather than having their boards/councils approve the poverty exemption guidelines each year, they are being written in a manner which would provide for the incorporation of changes in allowable income, etc. and therefore should not need approval each year.   There was brief discussion regarding the percentages for exemption being granted by the various local units. 

Ms. Czeiszperger added that she is including a “non-cash benefit” test, which would include items such as financial aid, Medicaid, food assistance, etc.  In the past this was included in the income portion of the application.  However, she stated that in the past she has found it difficult to obtain this information from applicants and is now asking specific questions regarding these types of benefits.

Trustee Sieloff inquired about the classification of marijuana growing facilities and how members were handling the issue.  She noted that to date the state has not provided clear guidance.  The guidance that has been given appears to keep reverting to highest and best use, yet in the past we have not been allowed to classify based on highest and best, but rather on current use.  She offered her opinion that perhaps the best approach might be to classify it as commercial, which many units are already doing.  It was noted that there will likely be appeals filed regarding this issue of classification.  Brief discussion ensued regarding the personal property located in the facilities and the best practices in the valuation of these facilities, as well as what impact the renovations and type of business occupying/utilizing them may or may not have.

Adjournment

Motion to adjourn by Sandra Birkenshaw.  Supported by Julie Geldhof.  The meeting adjourned at 1:08 pm

Respectfully Submitted,

Jessica Holden, Secretary

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