Homeowners brace for "sticker shock" on property tax bills

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Many homeowners will get sticker shock when they open their tax bill next month. Home values are up an average of two percent (with some areas much higher) and property taxes rose with them.

Kathryn Flannagan lives in the Irvington area in a house she bought 13 years ago. Over the past several years, she's watched it drop in value, but no more.

After last year's general reassessment (something required every 10 years) her home's assessed value jumped 31 percent. At 78 and on a fixed income, Flannagan's been worried about how much more she'll have to pay in taxes.

"I am concerned...What I'm afraid of is, I don't want to have to sell my house," she said.

While the Marion County Treasurer's Office won't be sending out the new tax bills until early April, they have posted the bills online. We checked Flannagan's and found out, thanks to tax credits, caps and deductions, she'll pay the same in taxes this year as last.

Not so for Jim Warrenburg, who also lives in Irvington. He's looking at an extra $300 a year in taxes.

"I don't like," he said. "Does anyone like anything like that goes up like that?"

Warrenburg lives in an area where the assessor got it wrong on hundreds of parcels (more than 6,000 countywide.)

When we met him last fall, his assessment was up a whopping 42 percent. After the assessor made adjustments, it rose 19 percent, not as bad as before, but still tough on the retired homeowner.

"Oh yeah, it's hard on me," Warrenburg said. "I'm on a pension, so all I get is the pension and I'll have that much less... I didn't appeal. I should have, I guess."

His neighbor, Suzanne Frederickson, is feeling more fortunate. Initially, her assessment rose 20 percent, but after the assessor adjusted it, it actually dropped slightly. Her tax bill is the same as last years.

"I was shocked (last fall) but this seems more reasonable," she said. "It's great to see they've done that."

Larry Henss' tax bill went up $600. He lives in Meridian-Kessler, an area where assessed values went up an average of nine percent.

"As long as assessments are fair from property to property, I don't have any problem with it," Henss said. "It's when the neighbors across the street are over-assessed compared to ours. I wish they could get rid of the inconsistencies."

Henss said what he's really like to see is property taxes replaced with an increase in sales or income taxes.

Donna Mallinckrodt, who also lives in Meridian-Kessler said she too is "kind of confused by the whole thing," how they get to the final numbers. But even though she faces a higher tax bill, but she's not complaining.

"Being an East Coast girl and coming from Colorado as well, the taxes in Indianapolis are pretty affordable," she said.

According to the Marion County Assessor, more than 10,000 homeowners appealed their new assessments. They will have to pay taxes on the newest assessments though until those appeals are resolved.

The first installment of the tax bill is due May 10th.

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