Lake official likes that only 9,000 hate their tax assessment

2013-03-27T19:22:00Z 2013-03-27T22:30:07Z Lake official likes that only 9,000 hate their tax assessmentBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Lake County's latest survey of property values appears to be going down a lot easier with the public than a decade ago when a reassessment launched a taxpayers revolt.

If happiness is measured in the number of people officially complaining that elected assessors put too high a value on their homes and businesses for taxing purposes, then the 2012 general reassessment is a rousing success, according to County Assessor Hank Adams.

"There are a lot fewer appeals we have to deal with," Adams said.

About 9,000 property owners have filed appeals demanding the county lower their assessment.

While that sounds like a lot of dissatisfaction, it's a fraction of the 27,800 angry taxpayers who wanted to tar and feather county officials after the 2002 reassessment boosted home values, for taxing purposes, so high that families saw their tax bills more than double.

Their discontent led state and local officials to place caps on the total amount of taxes that can be extracted from any single parcel in a year.

The reason for the reduction in appeals involved changes in who did the reassessment and how they did it, according to Frank Kelly, president of the Nexus Group, a consulting firm that assisting the county's most recent reassessment.

He said his firm and the elected assessor did a much better job in measuring real estate values as well as including new construction not on the the tax rolls earlier.

The 2002 reassessment was conducted by two national firms chosen by state officials and imposed on Lake over local objections.

In the past, reassessments only took place once or twice a decade, so when their new real estate values were announced, they were dramatically higher because they included several years of inflation. Now, assessors recalculate property values annually, so dramatic changes are less likely.

Kelly said taxpayers should also like the fact the reassessment of the county's more than 247,000 real estate parcels was cheaper this time. Local officials spent about $11 million on the 2012 reassessment. The 2002 version cost more than $18 million.

"What’s not to like about one third the cost for two thirds fewer errors?" Kelly said

Kelly said the smaller number of appeals also saves taxpayers the cost of county officials having to investigate claims of overassessment. Kelly predicts about half the appeals will fail and the remainder will be resolved with minor changes.

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