The Oklahoma State Board of Equalization certified that Lincoln County Assessor Jackie Holcomb’s office is in compliance with two major annual audits at its meeting on December 1. The State Board reviewed information on all 77 counties and acted upon the recommendation of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
The two reviews, the Performance Audit and the Equalization Study, are conducted annually by the tax commission gathering information over the course of the year. Among the things checked are property sales, property appraisals and compliance with all constitutional and statutory laws.
In order to pass the Performance Audit, county assessors are required to annually predict the sales price of all residential and commercial properties in a county before a property actually sells. Counties that fail to predict sales prices within a statistical guideline are found to have failed the audit and to be out of compliance with the law. Assessors are then ordered to make the necessary changes to come into compliance. Assessors that fail to come into compliance are subject to the Oklahoma Tax Commission taking over management of the county office.
To receive the maximum number of audit points, Holcomb’s office predicted, on average, residential and commercial sales within ten percent of actual sales price. The assessor said that predicting in January what a property will sell for the next year can be particularly challenging considering all the changes that could happen to that property, or affect that property, over a 12 month period.
Lincoln County received 91 percent of the points available on this year’s audit. It is the fifth consecutive year Lincoln County has scored over 90 percent. The state requires a score of 70 percent to pass the Performance Audit.
The second audit, the Equalization Study, checks to see if assessors adjusted sold properties to their sales price the year after the properties sold. This audit determined that Lincoln County adjusted sales, on average, to within less than one-half of one percent of their sales prices.
“The penalties for failing the Equalization Study are similar to the penalties for failing the Performance Audit,” Holcomb said. “The assessor is ordered to make changes and if the changes aren’t made, the OTC will take control of the office,” she continued.
Holcomb went on to say that the audits check several other items of her office’s operations, even including the use of the proper paper forms. She stated that the items checked also include proper procedures, policies, educational requirements, staffing and budgets.
“We work hard to pass both of these audits and it is a year-round process,” said Holcomb. “Assessors must continually inspect properties and make adjustments to taxable value in order to stay in compliance,” she added.
She said that the Performance Audit was created in 2012 to audit assessors. The Equalization Study has been in place for over 30 years. Historically, five to ten assessors fail one or both of the audits and are found to be out of compliance annually.