Saturday, March 29, 2008

Marion County Re-Assessments A Vast Improvement

For all the criticism Marion Co. Assessor Greg Bowes has endured over the countywide reassessment ordered last year by Gov. Mitch Daniels, the end result has been a vast improvement over last year's fatally-flawed assessments. Under the old assessments, Marion Co. homeowners were paying nearly two-thirds of the property tax burden. After the reassessment, their share dropped nearly 10 percentage points. Overall assessments jumped $5.6 billion. Most of that amount was attributable to a one-third increase in business and industrial property assessments. These figures are based on the Star's Tim Evans' reporting.

When the assessment figures were released last year, I analyzed the figures for the homeowners in my building. For the most part, the numbers were pretty much on target. Elsewhere in my neighborhood, however, the assessments were all over the place. Some homes were grossly under-assessed while others were over-assessed. After reviewing the figures provided in the Star's database, these unfair differences have been largely corrected, at least in my neighborhood.

County taxpayers had to pay $1.8 million to accomplish this reassessment, but it is money well-spent. Gov. Daniels should be lauded for recognizing that township assessors had failed miserably in carrying out their statutory duties with respect to the reassessment and ordering a do-over. Similarly, Bowes should be credited with ensuring the job got done correctly. Finally, taxpayers need to remember how poorly the township assessors performed when they go to the polls this November where they will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum on the abolition of their township assessor and to turn this responsibility over to a more professional, county assessor staff. This is particularly true in Center Township where the township assessor's performance was the worst of all township assessors.


Doug said...

So, for the median homeowner, any idea what this means in terms of dollars saved on a tax bill?

I was doing some research along those lines a couple of days ago, trying to figure out the median tax bill in dollars, and was having a remarkably difficult time. I saw lots of talk about percentage increases and whatnot, but not very much in terms of actual dollars for individual properties.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That's a good question, Doug. Homeowners as a group are paying about 10 percentage points less of the burden according to the analysis in the Star even though overall homeowner assessments increased as a result of the do-over. I think that should translate into at least a 5%average reduction in addition to the amount taxpayers receive from last year's rebate and the additional savings from Daniels' property tax relief plan. I haven't seen what the median assessment amount is.

jabberdoodle said...

I hope you'll take a look at things again in one year - after the businesses and apartment owners flood the various Assessor offices with appeals. I don't know if it was the decision of Greg Bowes or the Department of Local Government Finance, or even the contractors themselves -- but in someone's infinite wisdom, non-residential property was assessed using national sales figures, not local.

Imagine the overassessment that would occur if national home prices were applied to Indianapolis homes.

So, the proof will be in the pudding, but the pudding won't be done until the appeals are finalized. The more successful the appeals, the more tax will be collected next year to make up for this year's shortfall.

As for your man Mitch's wisdom in requiring a new assessment, he achieved his main goal -- lower the temperature of the public. I will be interested to see if the media follow up with how many people thought Mitch 'forgave' them the extra tax from 2007 and now face a few hundred or more in a reconcilliation bill. Oh, they generously granted us the right to pay over time, but pay we will.

David Myers said...

I also disagree with your story. My assessment went up almost 27%. This will put me in the 1% cap that will not take full affect until 2010 or 2011. It depends on how one looks at the results. If based on the big bills or 2007, yes I would save money. But if you look at the 2006 bills plus the new 1% sells tax, in the end I and many others will be paying more in the end. Not to mention the goods you buy will have to cost more to cover that big raise in businesses property taxes. So in the end I do not see this as any property tax relief. Just the same thing that they have done for the last thirty five years and called it “property tax relief”.

Mann Law, P.C. said...

You should only celebrate if you do not own a business. My tax bill on my business, if I loose my appeal, will more than double. The previous assessment was right in line with a private appraisal I had for a refinance. If you rent from a business you should expect a large rent increase as most leases have a clause passing through tax increases.