Real estate prices have fallen around the nation in the past two years.

Real estate prices have fallen around the nation in the past two years.

How much they have dropped in Delaware County will be determined by the 2011 sexennial reappraisal.

Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa's office will be busy for two years gathering data for the reappraisal.

"Generally speaking and based on what we have seen in 2008 and 2009, I expect to see a decline in property values but not the kind of meltdown that has occurred with property values in the Florida, Las Vegas and California markets," Kaitsa said in an e-mail.

"Delaware County has a strong employment base and the third lowest unemployment rate in the state for September (6.7 percent), a factor that tends to support home values.

In addition, property values were not as overvalued as they were in the Florida, Las Vegas and California markets," he wrote.

State law requires counties to "reassess and reappraise all real property" every six years, said Kelly Tennant, real estate administrator for the county, noting that a triennial update also is required.

The sexennial reappraisal requires a more detailed look at property values. The last countywide reappraisal was 2005, she said.

"In addition to our appraisers physically inspecting every parcel and neighborhood to look for changes since the last physical inspection, we will review sales data for years 2008, 2009, and 2010," Tennant said.

Tennant said the auditor's office is responsible for setting the values for all properties, but not the assessment of taxes.

"Voters determine the tax rates," she said.

Since the county has 79,200 parcels and the reappraisal must be complete by March 2011, auditor Kaitsa said his office has contracted with John G. Cleminshaw Inc. to conduct the work.

"The cost of the contract is $1,265,900 and reflects a reduction for work that will be done in-house by my office staff," Kaitsa said. "Cleminshaw will be responsible for the appraisal of all residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, railroad, and exempt properties, schools and churches. Our staff appraiser will be responsible for new commercial and industrial construction."

Kaitsa said he is working with the Ohio Department of Taxation's Tax Equalization Division to see if costs can be reduced by using aerial photography for the initial data collection phase of the reappraisal.

The reappraisal is funded by fees collected from political subdivisions when the county auditor's and treasurer's offices determine the amount of property taxes collected and the amount to be paid to each political subdivision, Kaitsa said. The fees are deducted before the tax revenue is distributed.

After the data is analyzed, the auditor will send notices to property owners informing them of their "tentative values." Property owners then can attend informal hearings with the appraisers to discuss the values and ask questions about the reappraisal. The tentative values are then sent to the state for certification.

"If an owner was unable to call in or attend an informal hearing, but still wishes to appeal their valuation, they can do so through the board of revision. This requires the owner to file a complaint against valuation form with our office no later than March 31, 2012," Tennant said.

Kaitsa said his office cannot use bank sales and foreclosure sales as valid sales to establish property values.

John Kohlstrand, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Taxation, said the sexennial reappraisal is an important process, with a goal "to make sure everyone is treated fairly, taxed on their true value not paying any more and not paying any less, the thing is to hold everyone to the same standard."