Grundy County resident reports property tax increase, but what’s the cause?

81-year-old Verona resident Jim Malmquist’s property taxes on his 150-year-old property went from around $5,225.98 to $8,110.62 just a year after Grundy County reassessed his home.

That sounds like a lot because it is, but the Grundy County Tax Assessor Deb Ritke said the increase came because Malmquist’s home was under-assessed.

A look at the parcel tax statement from 2022 shows that the homesite, meaning the land Malmquist’s home sits on, was valued at just $3,045. The county assessed the land value at $16,763 in 2022, and the combination of homes, farmland and farm buildings on the property pushed the total assessed value to $109,509.

The county assessed the property last in 2012 when it was two separate parcels. Malmquist bought out his brother’s half and combined it into one parcel in 2021.

It is now one parcel with two homes, which caused the value of the dwellings on the property to balloon to $84,907.

The $84,907 home value is typically a third of what the home’s value is should it hit the real estate market, according to Ritke.

“This particular bill that I got this year was way over the appraised value from just two years ago,” Malmquist said. “It looks to me like they’re jacking up the market value they show on their tax bills in order to increase property taxes.”

The numbers add up, but that doesn’t make it an easier pill to swallow for Malmquist or any other Grundy County resident stuck in his shoes. He lives on social security, and he’s now facing a large tax bill.

Malmquist pointed out that even if his property has increased in value, it doesn’t mean he’s personally seeing that money. He bought the home in 2021, valued at $275,000, and now the tax bill values the property at $314,088.

“The house was entered into our family in the 1840s,” Malmquist said. “And the one house on the property is over 100 years old that I’m living in, and then there’s another house in the back that is even older than that. Both of these are old houses. It’s not like we put a new house on the property.”

Ritke’s recommendation for seniors is to keep applying for the owner-occupied and senior-citizen exemptions, which can work as a freeze for those on a fixed income.

Malmquist did not apply for either in 2022, as he missed the Dec. 2022 due date to apply. He had applied for them in the past, but hadn’t this time because he was preoccupied due to health issues.

The general homestead exemption, according to, is an annual exemption for an owner-occupied residential property that can grant an exemption of up to $6,000 in Grundy County. The low-income senior citizen assessment freeze homestead exemption may also apply for some senior citizens with an income of $65,000 or less, which would freeze property taxes at the current number and prevent it from going up later provided the taxpayer apply for it each year.

There is also a senior citizens homestead exemption available for anyone older than 65 that would knock up to $5,000 off the property tax bill.

There are many other exemption programs that vary from situation to situation. Each of them are explained in detail at

Residents also have another avenue: They have 30 days after receiving the property tax bill to file an appeal in an effort to dispute the assessment.

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Ottawa and Ottawa City Council for The Times