McCracken County's real estate could be under assessed by $1 billion to $3 billion, Property Valuation Administrator Bill Dunn recently reported to the county fiscal court.
"It just was not being done," Dunn said during a follow-up interview with The Sun.
"Real estate appreciates in value and as long as you take care of your property everything goes up. It's pretty bad. There's a lot of properties that haven't been looked at in 20 or 30 years."
The county's certified value for the current tax year is $4.1 billion.
Nancy Bock held the PVA post in McCracken County for decades. In September 2018, Bock resigned and was subsequently indicted on charges of theft by unlawful taking and forgery. She was sentenced to four years in prison in July.
Gov. Matt Bevin appointed Dunn in October 2018 in the wake of Bock's resignation and he was elected the following month.
During a recent interview, Dunn randomly drew property valuation cards and checked them against the office's computer records, finding some that weren't in the system and some with valuations that were entered incorrectly or never updated.
"Mistakes were made and there's a bunch of cards we can't find," Dunn said. "When Nancy left there was a bunch of cards that were in the office that the value should have been updated on."
Though it's impossible to say how many properties' valuation cards are missing, Dunn estimates it's less than 1 percent.
Some properties have been omitted from the tax roll. As of Aug. 29, Dunn and his team had found 21 properties that never made it onto the tax roll.
Dunn doesn't believe they'll find any unevaluated properties from the past five years. He estimates that 10 percent of the county has been thoroughly combed for omitted properties by the PVA office.
Though the reassessment by Dunn's office is expected to increase the county's value, it will not solve McCracken County's financial hardships.
"If the county is under assessed by $1 billion to $3 billion like Bill says, that will not solve the county's problem," Deputy Judge-Executive Steve Doolittle told The Sun on Wednesday. "If these were all omitted properties, oh yeah, it would, but that's not the case."
The tax rate can't be directly manipulated by the county, only the total revenue collected can. McCracken collected $4,148,298 last year and plans to collect $4,259,887 during the current tax year -- electing to take the maximum 4 percent increase in funds collected via Kentucky's House Bill 44.
Last year's rate throughout the county was 9.6 cents per $100 of property value and this coming year it looks to be 10.1 cents, but as the assessment of the county goes up the rate should drop even as the overall revenue for the county increases.
An affidavit to that effect was published Aug. 27 and the fiscal court plans to discuss it during Monday's meeting.
"If your property was assessed at what it should be, you're overpaying because a lot of the other properties in the county are under-assessed. You're paying more than your fair share of the total tax revenue," Dunn said.
Doolittle agreed and praised the PVA.
"As that assessment goes up, it's going to crash the rate for a lot of people. It'll lower everyone's tax rate who's at or close to 100 percent assessed," Doolittle said.
"Really, Bill Dunn isn't a villain. He's a hero in my mind because he's making it more fair for everybody, especially people whose homes are properly evaluated. It's the right thing to do."