Montgomery County swamped by property value disputes

Montgomery County property owners have filed a high number of appeals after a recent reappraisal drove up the value of commercial and residential real estate throughout the county. Staff Photo
Montgomery County property owners have filed a high number of appeals after a recent reappraisal drove up the value of commercial and residential real estate throughout the county. Staff Photo

County creates a second appeals panel to handle cases

Due to a surge of tax value disputes by Montgomery County property owners — almost a quarter seeking an adjustment of more than $50,000 — the county auditor plans to seat a second board to hear the appeals.

A countywide reappraisal last year saw tax values rise by double digits on a majority of properties. In response, owners have filed 3,590 value appeals on 4,132 real estate parcels before a March 31 deadline, according to the Montgomery County Auditor’s office.

To handle the high volume, Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith announced today he plans to form a second Board of Revision, a three-person body that hears property valuation appeals.

“Adding a second board will allow us to finish this important work in a timely manner while ensuring a smooth experience for our property owners,” Keith said.

ExploreTell us if you disputed the tax value of your home

Each of the two boards will include a representative from the offices of the county auditor, county treasurer and county commission. County commissioners will be required to select their representative through an approved resolution to come at a later date, according to a county spokeswoman.

Following the 2020 reappraisal, the Ohio Department of Taxation rejected the county’s calculated 7.4% increase on residential property values and ordered an adjustment that more than doubled that value increase to an average of 15.5% countywide. The adjustment resulted in 82% of the county’s 210,776 residential parcels going up in value — 62% of them rose by double-digit percentages, according to the auditor’s office.

Of the appeals filed before the March 31 deadline, 968 — or 23% — seek to adjust a property’s value by more than $50,000, according to the county.

The county’s second Board of Revision is expected work for about three months beginning in June and will be assigned to hear those cases with large value discrepancies, which are often counter-appealed by the school district where the property is located.

The auditor’s office has notified school boards of the properties in which an adjustment was requested in excess of $50,000. School districts have 30 days after the notification to counter-appeal. Eleven school districts had already filed appeals on 243 parcels, 226 of which are either commercial or industrial properties, according to the auditor’s office.

Earlier this year, the auditor’s office analyzed the overall impact of the 2020 reappraisal and found taxes went up on 52.7% of the county’s residential parcels. The overall 4% countywide property tax increase is expected to generate an additional $34.1 million for schools, cities, villages, townships, libraries and parks, as well as other social services agencies that receive funding through levies.

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Constance Myers is one of about 800 property owners who have already had a Board of Revision hearing. Her 1,318 square-foot-brick ranch home in Miami Twp. increased 25% in value last year and her property taxes rose 13% this year. She bought the house in 2013 and thought she would live out her retirement there.

“When you purchase a property, you decide what you can afford based on the costs that will occur,” she said. “I never imagined my property taxes would increase by this drastic amount in one year’s time ... If the trend continues, I’m going to have to probably do something different than what I worked my whole life to try to accomplish.”

Myers said she’s made no major improvements to the home yet its value increased more than three times the county’s initial average and 9.5% higher than the average state-ordered countywide adjustment.

“There are only so many pennies in a dollar and my retirement check is not increasing by the same rate as my taxes,” she said.

Myers said she asked the Board of Revision to lower her home’s value by $30,000 and during the hearing presented the panel with evidence including what her house’s valuation compared to nearby sales on a price-per-square-foot basis.

Auditor’s office appraisers look at a variety of factors to determine what a property would sell for on the open market, including recent sale prices of similar properties in the same neighborhood, said Mike Brill, an auditor’s office spokesman.

A lack of improvements won’t necessarily keep a home’s value from rising, Brill said.

“A property’s value can increase even if there haven’t been any improvements if similar, nearby properties indicate that the property would sell for a higher price if it were put on the market,” he said.

No decisions have been made yet on Myers’ Board of Revision case or any other of the thousands filed between January and the end of March, according to the auditor’s office.

Keith said he welcomes the larger number of appeals this year.

“We know the property value appeal process can feel daunting for property owners,” he said. “We wanted every property owner to feel empowered to file an appeal, so we tried to go above and beyond to educate property owners about the process.”

The county seated a second Board of Revision in 2009 during the Great Recession to handle appeals on 7,688 parcels, the county’s largest caseload ever, and again in 2015 when 5,200 parcels were appealed following the 2014 property revaluation, according to the auditor’s office.

The hearings are being conducted via Zoom video conferencing or phone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the auditor’s office.

In March, the auditor’s office released a five-minute informational video to help explain how to file an appeal and what types of evidence are useful in arguing a case. The video can be found at mc-bor.org.