Porter County taxpayers surprised by higher bills

2013-04-10T17:45:00Z 2013-04-11T11:07:05Z Porter County taxpayers surprised by higher billsBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder said his office is beginning to hear from taxpayers angry about increases in their bills that were posted on the county's website this week.

The calls came as no surprise to Snyder, who correctly predicted last fall that the lower assessed valuations could result in higher tax rates if local units of government are unwilling to cut their spending.

Tax rates were increased in 23 of the 29 local cities, towns and townships, according to information provided by Snyder. The six taxing units that cut their rates are Beverly Shores, Town of Pines, and Morgan, Pine Township (Michigan City schools), Pleasant and Union townships.

While willing to help disgruntled taxpayers by considering technical errors in assessed valuations, Snyder said the general appeal period is over. The next opportunity to appeal will come later this summer when new assessments are sent out.

Porter County Treasurer Mike Bucko said the paper version of the property tax bills are scheduled to be printed this weekend and mailed out early next week.

The bills are going out ahead of the state-mandated deadline of April 25, he said. The first payment is due May 10 and the second Nov. 12.

Officials have said the potential outcome of the bills was made even more uncertain as a result of the new tax caps, which makes it unconstitutional for property taxpayers in the state to pay rates higher than 1 percent of assessed value on owner-occupied homes, 2 percent on rental and farm properties and 3 percent on business and industrial properties.

A continued decline in assessments means more taxpayers could hit those caps, which is bad news for taxing units unwilling to cut their budgets, Snyder has said.

Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski has warned local government leaders for the past couple of years that the lower assessments — coupled with assessment appeal refunds and the tax caps — could amount to trouble on the horizon.

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