Tax assessments outrage some homeowners

The 2012 property assessments arrived at Marion County homes this week.
Published: .
Updated: .

If you own a home in Marion County, chances are good it's gone up in value, according to the assessor's office.

The 2012 assessments are arriving at most homes this week and not everyone is happy with the new numbers.

Matt Simion was one of several people who headed to the assessor's office after receiving his.

"I'm not happy to be honest with you. The assessment is $97,900 and the value is probably $38,000 to $45,000, so I'm just very concerned and need to get this taken care of," Simion said.

Glen Timmons, who owns several rental properties, was also upset with his new assessments, which translate into higher taxes.

Timmons said, "I'm probably looking at $40,000 to $50,000 in values I'm not paying taxes on, which is a fair amount of money."

Assessor Joe O'Connor said he wasn't surprised at the people and calls coming into his office.

"Being it was a general reassessment there were wholesale changes made in the assessment process, so a high percentage of properties changed," O'Connor said.

In fact, countywide, roughly 62 percent of residential properties saw assessed values increase over last year, with the biggest jumps in Washington, Warren and Center Townships. Sixty-eight percent of homes in Washington and Warren Townships increased in value, with 52 percent in Center Township.

O'Connor said the reassessment involved physically inspecting each property for changes or additions, factoring in updated land and home replacement costs (which hadn't been updated in ten years) and comparable sales. And he noted home values have begun trending up.

Is your assessment fair?

O'Connor said ask yourself this: "What would a willing buyer pay for your property on March 1, 2012...That's the question we ask."

But he also admits they don't always get it right. In fact, they recently got it wrong on 6,700 properties in 52 neighborhoods, many in the Irvington area. That pushed back the assessment process by more than a month as they worked to fix things. If you question your assessment, O'Connor said, "you absolutely have the ability to appeal and go through that process."

That's exactly what Brad Cleveland was planning to do after getting his new assessment.

"It went up $35,000 and that's too high... because the house next door sold for $40,000 and two doors up sold for $50,000, so $150,000 for mine is unreasonable," he said.

But if you decide to appeal, don't expect a resolution any time soon. O'Connor said there's a backlog of roughly 26,000 appeals going back to 2008.

The Assessor's office has been behind since it was swamped with appeals since 2007. At the time, many homeowners were hit with higher assessments and higher taxes, resulting in numerous protests which ultimately led to several tax reform measures.

Lee Paul, who owns dozens of properties said, "my experience with the appeals process is it's horrible. You come in do the paperwork and wait three to four years to go through the process."

And he points out, until there's a decision on your appeal, your taxes are based on the new assessment.

The deadline to file an appeal is January 28, 2013.