The Swartz Report: Lower Gas Prices and Issues On The Horizon

Don SwartzPost written by Donald Swartz, President and Principal at Swartz + Associates, Inc. | Lover of Chiefs, Royals and golf | Avid “Cruiser” | Poker Enthusiast

There’s something about Valentine’s Day that says, “Ok, we’re finished with New Years. We’ve gone through the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl. We’ve eaten our chocolates. Can we please get back to work now?”

Not that I haven’t been working these past weeks, but the month of January has traditionally been a month to get ready for new clients, prepare for existing clients and wait to see how the respective counties will treat property valuations for the upcoming year.

The wait is over in Johnson County, KS as the commercial valuations will be mailed to taxpayers beginning February 15th.  The Greater Kansas City area has experienced strong sales activity the past few years and increases in property valuations have followed. At the same time, western Kansas and other areas dependent on the oil and gas industry have been suffering tremendously since the beginning of 2015.

Over 300 companies across the country, with ties to the oil and gas industry, declared bankruptcy last year and the pace has not slowed down at the start of 2016.

Oil, gas, coal – Big Energy, all significant payers of property taxes to the local school districts, have seen property valuations plummet, and while the consumer is currently benefiting from lower prices at the pump, the long term picture may not be so rosy.

We recently experienced our first interest rate hike since 2006 and it’s the first time the interest rate has been above zero since 2008. That’s truly incredible when you look back at the past decade. I’m certainly not an economy expert and have no crystal ball, but it sure feels like there are issues on the horizon. As a result, owners of commercial/industrial property should be ready for the next wave of significant valuation swings in the upcoming months.

What’s An Owner To Do?

  1. Pay attention to the valuation notices when they arrive. This is your best time to take action either by contacting the local assessor’s office or hiring outside professionals to review the current valuation.
  2. Be aware of the surrounding area where your property is located. Are you seeing “For Sale” or “For Lease” signs?  Do you talk to your neighbors and/or discuss trends in your businesses?
  3. Is your business generating profits? If so, how do profits compare to the past 3 years?
  4. Don’t wait to act until you receive your tax bill. Generally speaking, once you receive your property tax bill, it’s too late to do anything for the year in question. There are exceptions in certain states, but I wouldn’t recommend risking it.

Here’s hoping you’re off to a good start in 2016.  If you have questions about your property valuations, email me at  or call our office at (913) 766-8777.

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