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“It’s sticker shock,” Changes to property taxes have Oklahoma residents fuming

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EL RENO, Okla. - Canadian County is one of the fastest growing counties in Oklahoma and now it's facing some growing pains.

A change to property taxes has some residents aching.

James Niles was flabbergasted when he opened his new property tax bill.

Niles said, "I just don't think it's fair and I don't think people should have to endure opening their mail and seeing that their properties have doubled and tripled."

Long-time realtor and property owner Karen Graves said the numbers just don't add up.

Graves said, "This year, I got the assessments and we have a building that's gone up $42,000. It went from $180,000 to $222,000. Our home went up and our office building went up as well."

She said the system the county assessor is using is not yielding accurate numbers.

She said, "They [county assessor] told me they're only doing drivebys. They don't look at the condition of the properties, they don't look at the size of properties, they don't make an adjustment for the size of properties."

We sat down with Canadian County Assessor Matt Wehmuller about how the fair market value is evaluated.

Wehmuller said, "We look at sales in those neighborhoods. We only look at good sales that are true market value that are between a willing buyer and a willing seller. We establish a range and median value, apply that median value, that median price per square foot to properties throughout the area."

He explained the reason for the increase is because of the county's rapid growth.

But Niles argued his properties, built decades ago on six acres, should not be compared to a multimillion dollar facility across the street on more than 20 acres.

Wehmuller said, "It's sticker shock and I recognize that, but at the same time, the first question I would like to ask is do you reasonably sell your property, your commercial or residential property, for the value we have placed on it?"

Niles said no.

Niles said, "I know it won't sell for the higher value because it's not worth it. If anybody who wants it, they can have it tomorrow."

Residents can appeal the assessment but you have to do it within 20 business days of receiving your assessment.

It's also important to note there is a five percent cap on the taxes but even under that cap, property owners would consistently face a five percent increase every year.