Marion County admits property assessment errors
The Marion County Assessor admits to making mistakes. He said his office assessed hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Indianapolis homes an average of 20 percent higher than they should be.
Assessments determine property tax rates. The higher your assessment, the more you pay.
"We know there's a problem and we're working toward fixing it," said Assessor Joe O'Connor.
O'Connor said the issue came to light in the Irvington area where 221 parcels were incorrectly assessed.
Jim Warrenburg's assessment, for instance, jumped a whopping 42 percent.
His neighbor Suzanne Frederickson almost felt guilty as her assessment "only" jumped 20 percent.
Frederickson agreed something was terribly wrong.
"In our neighborhood, houses don't go for anything near [the new assessments]," she said. "It's way out of line for our neighborhood."
O'Connor said they're reviewing other areas as well, including parts of Meridian-Kessler.
"At this point, the problem is in the hundreds of parcels and we anticipate it growing to the thousands," he said.
O'Connor said when doing the general reassessment as required by state law, they factored in home improvements, updated land values and replacement costs but in the affected areas, they failed to factor in sales data which work to "equalize" assessments.
O'Connor said he takes full responsibility for the errors, which his office is now working to correct.
"I'm not going to say if your assessment went up it's wrong. These are neighborhood-level fixes," he said. "So as we identify neighborhoods and fix the problem, the entire neighborhood will come down an equal amount or go up."
But he noted the vast majority of properties were over-valued, including Larry Storm's.
Storm was shocked to see the assessment of his Irvington-area home jump 48 percent.
"The values ain't gone up that much, income ain't gone up that much," he said, adding he certainly couldn't afford the higher taxes the new assessment would bring.
"No, not being retired and on social security," he said. "At least they found it. They know they made a mistake and I just hope they get it fixed."
O'Connor predicted it would be about a week before he knew the full extent of the problem.
While the new assessments notices were to go out in early November, he said they will likely be delayed a couple weeks to a month.
He said property owners will still have the full 45 days to appeal.