By: Donetta Johnson | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: March 2016
Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel was first elected by the citizens of Tulsa County in 2002. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Major, having served as a radio operator, parachutist, Vietnamese linguist, Nuclear Artillery Officer, Recruiting Officer, and Financial Management Officer.
What exactly is a county assessor, and what are their responsibilities to the public? The Tulsa County Assessor’s Office of Ken Yazel clears up these common questions.
The Assessor values property for ad valorem tax purposes. Ad valorem means “according to value.” The Assessor’s Office does not set tax rates or collect taxes. Tax rates are set by the County Excise Board based on estimates of need presented to the board by the various school districts, cities, and other taxing jurisdictions. Property taxes are used, among other things, for schools, libraries, the health department, and to pay off bonds and legal judgments. Once the Assessor has valued the property and the Excise Board has set the tax rates, the County Treasurer is responsible for delivering tax invoices and collecting taxes.
The Assessor’s Office also receives and processes applications for exemptions. These include the Homestead Exemption, Additional Homestead Exemption, Property Valuation Limitation (Senior Freeze), Veterans Exemption, and Manufactured Home Exemption.
Mr. Yazel believes it is important that he and his staff be available in person to answer taxpayer questions, address concerns, and generally provide information about property valuation and ad valorem taxes. This is done through the Assessor’s Community Outreach Program, which is designed to give taxpayers an opportunity to learn about what the Assessor’s Office does and to provide a forum to answer questions and receive feedback. Mr. Yazel speaks to service clubs, professional organizations, homeowners associations, and various other groups throughout the year. His staff is available during the year to receive applications for exemptions at sub-offices located throughout Tulsa County and at various home shows and the state fair.
Many people are unaware of the fact that county assessors in Oklahoma are regulated by the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC). Each assessor’s office is subject to an annual performance audit by the OTC, which scores that office on how accurate and how equalized their property valuations are, as well as how the office performs its statutory duties in general. Since the inception of the audit, the Tulsa County Assessor has scored at or near the top of all counties in the state. And in 2015, the Tulsa County Assessor’s Office received a score of 100% (275 out of a possible 275 points). Mr. Yazel attributes much of this to his commitment to hiring competent and qualified people and providing the training necessary for them to perform their duties at a very high level.
Citizens are invited to visit the Assessor’s website at assessor.tulsacounty.org and look up their property or the property of others for whom they have responsibility. There are tools available by which property owners can compare their property value to others in the same area. Plus there is information about exemptions and forms available online to make filing easier. If citizens have any questions about their property valuation, exemptions, appeals, or any other topic, they can call the Assessor’s Office at
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