To ensure that all property, which should legally be on the county assessment roll, is properly listed, classified and valued, it first must be located and identified. This task of discovery is a constant attempt to capture all new construction, additions and demolition of existing improvements, as well as changes to land use and configuration. To accomplish this, assessment personnel track building permits, completion notices, property sales, zoning changes and a host of other sources for information about property status. Field inspections of all subdivisions and rural sectors of the county on a regular basis help the Assessor keep records as up-to-date as possible regarding property changes. State mandated re-appraisal is an ongoing schedule of reviewing 25% of the county every year.
Discovery of personal property is accomplished through a reporting schedule that businesses are required to file each year by March 1, listing all personal property or updating those schedules that is already on file.
After locating property, assessing personnel must accurately record and list all of that property’s characteristics to properly value the land and all improvements. All structures and extra features such as decks, garages, barns, pools and etc. are measured, and amenities or features that affect the market value of the improvements such as number of bathrooms, interior and exterior trim, floors finish, roofing type, etc. are noted for quantity and quality.
After all data has been collected on a property, the information is compared to all similar properties using a computer assisted mass appraisal (IMPACT) system that contains the property characteristics of all land and buildings in the county. Rates are set by the state of Tennessee during the reappraisal cycle.
Along with assigning a value to property, the Assessor also establishes the classification or “use category” for each property, which determines the assessment level that will be used in taxation for that property. Tennessee law establishes the following assessment levels for different property classes:
25% Residential / Farm
30% Business Personal Property
55% Public Utility (both real and personal)
The laws governing the tax appraisal process in Tennessee are based upon the same principles and procedures that are used throughout the appraisal profession. There are three basic approaches to the valuation of real property:
- The MARKET Approach involves comparison of a property to other properties with similar characteristics that have recently been sold.
- The COST Approach involves estimating the replacement cost of a structure, and adjusting that estimate to account for depreciation.
- The INCOME Approach is an analysis of a property's value based on its capacity to generate revenue for the owner.
The goal of the Assessor is to estimate fair market value for all property in the county.
Fair market value is defined as how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. To determine market values, the assessor must be familiar with all aspects of the local real estate market, such as: what different types of properties are selling for, local construction and repair costs, normal operating expenses, typical rents, and current financing charges for borrowing money to buy or build on property.
For the Assessor, maps are a means to inventory all real property within the jurisdiction. The Assessor is required to maintain an up-to-date set of maps that display all the parcels in the county, detailing their locations and physical characteristics. In Warren County, this is accomplished using a CAD-based GIS (Geographic Information System). Master digital maps are updated to reflect new subdivisions, surveys, property splits and the combining of parcels as they occur, and then paper maps are printed and placed in cabinets for reference and public viewing.
Another important duty of the office is providing public information to assist taxpayers with questions regarding property ownership, assessment, and recent property sales. The Assessor's office handles thousands of requests annually on the phone, through the mail, or in person from current or prospective property owners, as well as from the real estate, legal, and banking communities.
Reality of our Role
Now that you have a better idea of what the Assessor of Property does, here are a few things that the Assessor does NOT do. Contrary to popular belief, the Assessor:
Does not set the tax rate.
Does not send out tax bills.
Does not collect property taxes.
Tax rates for Warren County and the cities of McMinnville and Morrison, within Warren County, are set each year by their respective legislative bodies (county commission and city councils) based on the budgets they pass to fund programs and services. The County Trustee and city trustees are responsible for using that tax rate and the assessment roll from the assessor’s office to create and send out tax bills to all county property owners. The Trustee is also responsible for collecting county property taxes.
Equitable assessments assure property owners that they are paying only their fair share of the costs of operating schools and libraries, providing police and fire protection, road construction and maintenance, water, sanitation, and other basic public services. To this end, the Assessor of Property is responsible to the taxpayers of Warren County to ensure that all property is valued in accordance with state laws, that no property escapes the assessment process or is under assessed, and that no property owner receives unauthorized preferential treatment.
If you have further questions about property valuation or the laws that govern them, please contact our office. We are here to serve you.
What if I don't agree with my property appraisal?
If you feel that the market value appearing on your assessment change notice is incorrect, you should contact the Property Assessor's office at 931-473-3450. It is the duty of the Property Assessor to determine that your property is appraised correctly. Our objective is to be fair and accurate using available resources and considering those forces which impact property values in your area. Our office does not control property values; they rise and fall with the real estate sales market. After meeting with the assessor and examining the relevant data, you have the right to meet with the Warren County Board of Equalization by making an appointment in June.
How do I prove my case?
To obtain a reduction in appraised value before the County Board of Equalization, you must prove that the appraised value of your property exceeded actual market value. Your presentation before the board must be based upon facts and details. One good way to prepare for your hearing is to gather evidence regarding sales of comparison properties, pictures, etc.