Eighty-one-year-old Modesto resident Geraldine Dumolt said she was shocked when she recently opened her property tax bill for her mobile home and saw it was for $145.56.
She said in recent years she has paid at most nominal amounts in property taxes — for instance, about $26 in one year — and in some years nothing because the assessed value of her 1970 mobile home was so low. Dumolt — who lives in the Silverwood Mobile Home Park — said her monthly income is $1,173 a month so she has to make every dollar count. She pays $629 a month to rent her space in the park.
“I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d every have to pay taxes again on this old mobile home.”
Dumolt is not alone.
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The Stanislaus County assessor’s office has switched to a new way to calculate the assessed values of mobile and modular homes in response to a routine State Board of Equalization audit that recommended the change. That has caused assessed values to increase by 80 percent on average this year. A higher assessed value means a bigger property tax bill.
There are about 4,300 mobile and modular homes in Stanislaus County, and the assessor’s office recalculated the values of roughly 3,300 of them based on what is called a market review. (The reasons are complicated on why reviews were not required for all of the homes.)
While the average increase is 80 percent, the increases vary. Assessor Don Gaekle said the assessed values for 185 homes increased by at least 200 percent, with 13 of them seeing increases of 300 percent or more. Again, that translates into higher property tax bills. But he said the change in calculating assessed values — which involves using different cost tables and depreciation factors — has produced “values that align favorably with actual sales data in most cases.”
Gaekle said he understands this is a big deal for the homeowners. “We’ve gotten a lot of calls,” he said, “probably dozens. ... People are concerned about the increases and are asking why.”
Jackaline Cottrell, 89, who also lives in Silverwood Mobile Home Park, said she wishes the county would have given her and others advance notice of the higher property tax bills. Cottrell said her bill more than doubled this year to about $91. “I think it would have been nice if I had known about this.”
Gaekle said in hindsight his office should have notified mobile and modular home owners about the change in calculating the values. “I should have made sure there was more effort that more information got out,” he said.
Gaekle said owners of mobile and modular homes should not expect another big jump in next year’s property tax bills. He said the switch to the new way to calculate assessed values was a one-time adjustment.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316
What to do
Stanislaus County Assessor Don Gaekle urges mobile and modular home owners with questions about their assessments to call his office at 209-525-6461. He also said the property tax bills have information on how owners can appeal the assessments. Nov. 30 is the deadline to file an appeal.