Houghton County Courthouse
401 E. Houghton Ave.
Houghton, MI 49931
Monday & Friday:
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Appraisals through the months of June, July, August, & September
Closed legal holidays
Department Studies (forthcoming)
The Equalization Process
The equalization of assessments has been established in
Michigan to meet the constitutional mandate that all
property be uniformly assessed. MCL 211.34 covers the
process of County Equalization, requiring the County
Board of Commissioners annually examine the assessment
rolls of each City and Township [local unit] and
determine whether each class of real and personal
property has been equally and uniformly assessed at the
State-mandated level of 50 percent of true cash value
[market value]. If necessary, the County Board of
Commissioners must add to or deduct from the value of a
class of property within a local unit so that the total
value of that class of property is set at 50 percent of
true cash value. The County Board of Commissioners adds
to or deducts from the value of a class of property by
applying a County equalization factor to the assessed
value of the class as determined by the local assessor
to produce the County Equalized Value CEV.
The County Board of Commissioners does not determine the value of individual assessments. Rather, the County Board of Commissioners is responsible for determining the total value of each class of property within each local unit annually.
Since 1981, real property has been divided into six classes [Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Timber-Cutover, and Developmental]. There are fourteen Townships and two Cities located in Houghton County. The five Villages located in Houghton County are equalized as a part of the Townships within which they are located.
The Role of the County Equalization Department
MCL 211.34 requires that the County Board of
Commissioners establish and maintain a department to
survey assessments and assist the Board of Commissioners
in equalizing assessments. The Equalization Department
may furnish assistance to local assessing officers.
Including developing accurate property descriptions, the
discovery/listing/valuation of properties for tax
purposes, and the development of uniform valuation
standards and assessment techniques.
Annually, the Equalization Department studies the level of assessment in each class of property for every local unit in the county. Assessments are studied using sales and appraisal studies. Over 80 separate studies are conducted by the Equalization Department for real property each year (personal property for the 16 assessment jurisdictions is analyzed separately using different methodology).
Using statistical analysis, these sample studies are used to determine the total value of the real property classes being studied. The total value of a class as determined by the Equalization Department is compared to the total value of the class as determined by the local assessment jurisdiction. If necessary, the Equalization Department will recommend to the County Board of Commissioners that value be added to or deducted from the class as part of County equalization so that the average level of assessment of that class is 50 percent of true cash value. The primary purpose of the Equalization Department is to ensure, as part of County equalization, the correction of any inequities between the property classes of local assessment jurisdictions that may arise due to an over-assessment or under-assessment of a property class.
Additional Responsibilities of the Equalization Department
The Equalization Department is responsible under MCL
211.34d for calculating the annual millage reduction
fraction ["Headlee" rollback fraction] for each unit of
local government located in the county. Taxing entities
such as cities, villages, townships, local school
districts, intermediate school districts, and district
libraries rely on these rollback fractions and other
related information to establish their millage rates at
a lawful level each year.
The Equalization Department is also responsible for assisting the County Board of Commissioners in its duty under MCL 211.36 and 211.37 to certify the property tax levies of the various taxing entities within the county each year, commonly known as Apportionment. Provided its examination does not uncover a defect in an authorization to raise money by property taxes and provided that the necessary proceedings to authorize the raising of money by property taxes have been properly held, the County Board of Commissioners certifies the millage levies of taxing entities within the county. The Equalization Department creates an annual apportionment report and provides other assistance as necessary to assist the County Board of Commissioners with responsibilities related to apportionment.
MCL 211.27d further requires the Equalization Department to report on the taxable value of property in Houghton County to the State Tax Commission each year. This report shows the total taxable value of property in the county, the total taxable value of each of the 16 assessment jurisdictions in the county, and the total taxable value for each classification of property in each assessment jurisdiction as well as in the county. This report also shows the taxable value of property receiving the homeowner’s principal residence exemption, qualified forest property exemption, or the qualified agricultural property exemption in each of the 16 assessing units in the county and for the county overall.
The Equalization Department also has important informal responsibilities, including administrative assistance to other departments within Houghton County. The Equalization Department also acts as a liaison between the State Tax Commission, the County Board of Commissioners, local assessment jurisdictions, other taxing entities, and the general public.
Additionally, throughout the year, staff of the Equalization Department provides informal and formal education regarding property tax administration to real estate professionals, local unit assessors, and the general public. Further, the Equalization Department has daily contact with the public and serves as a valuable source of property-specific information for property owners and real estate professionals and others acting on behalf of property owners.
Adapted from the Information Section of the Calhoun County Equalization Department 07/01/23
Additional Responsibilities of the Equalization Department
Many of the records generated and maintained by the Equalization Department are public information and may be utilized by the public. The Equalization Department also coordinates maintenance of the County GIS map system.
Requests of documents may be emailed to
firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Attn: Equalization 401 E Houghton Ave, Houghton MI, 49931
Freedom of Information Act Coordinator: Ben Larson, Administrator