Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More on property assessments, appeals

Apparently property appeals are down and local tax rates are expected to drop. If you didn't see it, we ran a story Saturday, right smack here.

A few things of note.

This year roughly 7,500 protests were filed either online, over the telephone or in person during a two-week informal appeals phase that wrapped up earlier this month. The changes equated to a $30 million cut in assessments, which amount to about a $708,000 reduction in county tax dollars that the Trustee’s Office would be on the hook for collecting if not for the change.

Some folks wondered why the office could be off by so much.

Well, here's the deal, I suppose.

The state every four years requires the assessor's office to estimate a value for each of the 193,437 real parcels in Knox County. To figure out the amount, officials use a “mass appraisal” system, a method uses a plethora of data, including some of it tied to the physical characteristic of the land, nearby home sales and vacancy rates that look at multiple parcels, sometimes up to more than a 1,000 pieces of land at one time.

The process changes, though, once a property owner files an appeal. Then, appraisers work one-on-one with the person.

So, it's a lot easier when you're dealing with one piece of property and not 1,000 pieces.

On a side note, officials said that those who filed appeals online used stronger documentation and presented a better case. Appraisers then had a chance to go back and look at the information, look at the sales and look at the entire area.

In a few cases, though, officials said they did find instances where the square footage was off completely. That happened at a condo complex. So, mess up once and the entire place needed to be corrected.

Also, I've heard a number of complaints from residents, talking about how their neighbor's property was assessed at a different rate, yet they have the same size houses.

Well, that's on paper.

Jim Weaver, the second-in-command over at the assessor's office, said that owners pretty much need to focus on the property they own – and not what their neighbor has. For example, he said a 2,000-square foot single-level house is worth more than a 2,000-square foot home broken into a 1,500-square foot main level and a 500-square foot basement.

Couple other things.

Property Assessor Phil Ballard said that there's also been a lot of new growth. He said that a third of it that's taken place in the five years that he's held the post actually occurred last year. He noted the development of Costco on Lovell Road, and Publix stores in Turkey Creek and Northshore Town Center as prime examples.

“You can look around and there's construction on every corner,” he said. “There's a lot of promise going on right now.”

When asked what upset residents the most during the appeals process, Weaver said he was surprised.

“You know the one complaint I heard this time around that I head never head before was from people who were concerned that their values went down,” Weaver said. “I personally took 10 to 15 calls and they would say that 'this is my life savings,' and then the value goes down. We don't make up the values. We just capture what the market is telling us.”

No comments: