XENIA — Greene County Auditor David Graham is encouraging residents who have property valuation concerns to file a formal complaint with his office between Monday, Jan. 1 and Saturday, March 31.
Graham’s office mailed out 2017 triennial tentative property values to Greene County residents in September. A reappraisal of every property is done every six years, and then a triennial update is done every three years.
Property owners can challenge a property valuation through the Greene County Board of Revision by filling out a form on the auditor’s website or visiting http://bit.ly/2kyBV3B. The completed form should be mailed to Greene County Auditor, Board of Revisions, 69 Greene St., Xenia, Ohio 45385.
According to the auditor’s website, valuation complaints must relate to the total fair market value of both land and buildings. The board will hear complaints on property valuations, not tax dollars.
The complainant must submit any documents as evidence supporting the valuation before the hearing. This could include purchase and lease agreements, closing statements, appraisal reports, construction costs, rent rolls, and detailed income and expense statements.
According to Graham, the last countywide reappraisal in 2014 saw a decrease of 4 percent in residential property values while 2017 residential property values experienced an averaged 5 percent increase.
A Jamestown resident said the valuation on her house, which she bought a year ago, increased around 20 percent.
“It’s important to let people know out there that there is something you can do,” Robyn Montgomery, who has her formal complaint and supporting evidence ready to go, said in a phone interview with the Gazette.
Montgomery said she knew there was something wrong when she compared her valuation to some of her neighbors’ through a property search.
“It’s almost like they put people’s names in a hat. It’s all over the board when you pull it up,” she said.
But she’s especially frustrated about her mother’s valuation, which she said also saw an increase this year.
“I feel bad for old people, and people that don’t know, or people who don’t have computers,” she said. “My mom is 83. She got that valuation and said, ‘What are we going to do if we can’t pay it [property tax]?’ The county takes your house. That’s what happens.”
According to Graham, each property is valued using mass appraisal. Mass appraisal — which costs about $15 per parcel — has flaws, Graham said, since it only considers so much data, not usually including an inside look at the house.
“The update we just did was based on a sales study. But the basis for that goes back to the last reappraisal,” Graham said, explaining that the valuation has a lot to do with recent sales in the neighborhood, improvements to the house or other changes to the property. One example might be a finished basement or a new shed in the backyard, even if they were additions from years ago that had never been reported.
“Ultimately I never like to talk about increases and decreases,” Graham continued. “I would always point back to — what value do we have on your house? Is it reasonable for what you think it would sell for in the open market? If they answer ‘yes’ to that question, I would say obviously my value isn’t the problem.”
In the end, residents like Montgomery are concerned about taxes. If values go up, taxes go up. But, Graham pointed out, the two don’t increase percentage for percentage or dollar for dollar.
“Taxes are what taxes are. Value is what I’m responsible for,” Graham said.
“None of this is ever personal to me so I encourage people, if you want to file a complaint … I’m going to help you fill out the form,” the auditor continued. “It’s not personal. Computers determine what your value is. By filing a board revision complaint you’re saying ‘I don’t think the computer did a very good job. I want a human being to look at it’.”
For more information on property revaluations, visit www.co.greene.oh.us/366/Auditor or contact the office at 937-562-5065.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.