Onota Township Assessor
Deer Lake sunset

Onota Township Assessor
Cameron Fuess
(224) 388-3003

The assessor is an appointed official who has the duty to determine the value of properties within the township for taxation. He is also responsible for keeping updated records of all properties, recording property changes, and handling land division requests. Upon contacting the assessor, the assessor shall return phone calls and emails within 3 days of the initial correspondence. Longer than typical response times can be expected during assessment notice preparation, March Board of Review, July Board of Review, and December Board of Review.

The assessor’s office receives a considerable amount of public scrutiny, including reviews by the state and county. In addition, the Board of Review analyzes the work each year by means of the most critical entity: the taxpayer. Since the passage of property tax reform (Proposal A) that created Principal Residence Exemptions (PRE), assessing has undergone several changes. Not only is every property in the township appraised; it must be ensured that every qualifying resident receives a PRE.

Onota Township assessment department is available by appointment only. Please contact the assessor to arrange in-person meeting if necessary.

Online Access to Data and Maps

Since the Township does not have a full-time staff, for your convenience the Township has provided the public with access to all assessing, tax and mapping information online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The assessing data will be available through BS&A by the link below. The assessing information will give you the record card information including building contents break down, sketches and land information where available. You will be able to search by address, owner’s name, or parcel number.

Maps are provided through Alger County Equalization Department. Please find the link below to access Colligo GIS, the site that houses the maps.

Land Values

Each year vacant land sales are analyzed, and land values are categorized and calculated, then applied in the valuation process. Please see below for the land value grid used.

Economic Condition Factors

Each year the sales of improved properties are analyzed, and Economic Condition Factors (ECF’s) are calculated and applied in the valuation process. Please see below for the data by year.

Contact Information for Delinquent Taxes

Delinquent taxes are transferred to the Alger County Treasurers office in February of each year. Inquiries regarding tax amounts and payment status after February should be directed to the Alger County Treasurers office.

Current Tax Bill Status

Current year tax inquires can be directed to the Onota Township Treasurer.

Assessment Change Notices

Assessment change notices are mailed out at the end of February each year. Change notices will include tentative values, property classification and exemption status for the following year, and will include information on how and when to protest values if necessary.

Parcel Splits and Combinations

Splits and combinations are processed in January of each year. Below is a property split authorization form. This form needs to be complete and submitted, with payment to the Onota Township Hall.

Assessment Questions

What is a Principal Residence Exemption?
It exempts a Michigan resident (who owns and occupies their property as a primary residence) from paying the tax levied by a local school for operating purposes (up to 18 mills).

How is my property appraised?
The assessor first reviews all the property, then values it. Accurate appraisals require a continual search for significant data to estimate the fair market value of your property.

What is market value?
The market value of your property is the price most people would pay for it in its present condition. Factors such as location, size, condition, & home style all affect the market value. The assessor must conduct extensive research to determine this market value for every piece of property in the township. Each year, this entire process must be repeated, because the market value can change significantly from one year to the next.

Why do my assessed values change each year?
When market value changes – so does assessed value. For instance, if you add a garage to your home, the assessed value increases, but if your property is in disrepair, the assessed value decreases. However, the assessor does not create the value. People create value by their transactions in the marketplace. The assessor simply has the legal duty to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly for taxation.

What are my rights and responsibilities?
If your opinion of the property value differs from the assessment, please contact the assessor to discuss the matter. He would be glad to answer questions about your appraisal, and explain how to appeal if a disagreement on value still exists. The assessor’s office relies on your help, as the property owner, to provide accurate information.

How to protest an assessment?
Tax assessments can be disputed each year at the March Board of Review. Absentee protests are accepted, and will need a fully completed 4035a (protest to the march board of review) and any supporting documentation necessary. All of which needs to be submitted by the day preceding the final meeting of the March Board of Review.

Tax Value Questions

Why have a property tax?
For the financing to operate local (township and county) government, schools, fire & police protection, and other public services and benefits. Taxpayers share of the cost of these services in proportion to the amount their individual properties are worth. Property tax is part of a balanced revenue system, as it is a stable source of money that does not fluctuate when communities have recessions. When the community spends your tax dollars on improving schools, roads, and so on, your property values generally rise.

What is meant by Taxable Value vs Tax Rate?
The amount of taxes you pay is determined by a tax rate applied to the taxable value of your property. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies – township, county and school district – and depends on what is needed to provide all the services you receive

Please note: Tax collection itself has nothing to do with the assessor’s office. The primary responsibility of the assessor is to find the fair market value of your property, so that you pay only your fair share of the taxes.

The assessor’s office also keeps and updates records, such as changes in ownership, maps of parcel boundaries, descriptions of buildings and property characteristics, listings of those eligible for exemptions (and other forms of property tax relief), and most importantly, analyzes trends in sale prices and construction costs to estimate the value of all assessable property. All this must be done economically, accurately, and uniformly.

What is Taxable Value and how is it calculated?
Taxable value, the number upon which your tax bill is calculated, is determined each year by comparing state equalized (SEV) assessed value vs capped value and choosing the lower of the two.

  • Assessed value is the assessor’s estimate of 50% of the market value of the property.

  • Capped value is determined from the following formula: [(Prior year taxable value) – (losses*)] × [CPI** or 5% (whichever value is lower)] + additions.

    * Losses (in most cases) are equal to the assessed value of any buildings (or portions thereof) that were removed or destroyed in the previous year.

    ** CPI is the Consumer Price Index (i.e. inflation rate) in Michigan over the past year. This figure is determined by the Department of Treasury.

Once the capped value has been determined, the assessor compares it to the assessed value. The taxable value is the lesser of the two.

How can I calculate my property tax?
Property tax calculation is a straightforward multiplication problem. The formula is:

Taxable value × millage rate ÷ 1,000 = Property Tax

  • The taxable value of your property is reported to you on your Notice of Assessment, Taxable Valuation, and Property Classification document mailed each February.
  • The millage rate is the total number of mills being levied. Millage rates are calculated in the spring for the summer collection and in the fall for the winter collection. Millage rates vary from year to year.

Board of Review

onota assessor
Rock River

The Onota Township Board of Review consists of three township residents and the township supervisor as recording secretary. This board meets for the purpose of (1) hearing appeals on property values; (2) hearing exemption requests; (3) reviewing values set by the assessor; (4) correcting any errors in the assessing process.

  • The March Board of Review is when property owners may appeal the assessed value and classification of their property.
  • The July and December Board of Review meetings are limited to correcting qualified errors and hearing requests for certain exemptions (principal residence, agriculture, disabled veteran, poverty, etc).

Who can serve on the Board of Review?

Any registered elector of the township; state law does require that 2/3 members are property owners. Each member serves a two-year term. Up to two alternates may also be appointed. Alternates may serve if a regular member is absent or if there is a conflict of interest.

I have more questions about the Board of Review.

The State Tax Commission publishes this Board of Review information document that gives thorough explanations of the procedures and details.


What steps should I take if I disagree with my assessment?

  1. Contact the assessor to discuss your concerns or issues.
  2. If unresolved, file an appeal to the Board of Review (in March).
  3. If you still have an issue after the BOR decision, you must file an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

Poverty Exemption

How can I apply for a poverty exemption?

Contact the assessor for pre-screening and to receive a copy of the poverty exemption application. This must be done before the Board of Review meets. To be eligible for a poverty exemption, a person must:

  • own and live in the primary residence the exemption is requested for;
  • show proof of ownership;
  • apply via the poverty exemption application;
  • meet federal poverty income standards (set by the US Dept of Health and Human Services)
  • .