‘Astronomical increase’ in property values hits some local homeowners

Montgomery County. resident, Mark Tarjan shovels his driveway Thursday morning. “Draconian” is how Mark Tarjan described the 43% increase in value on the home he owns with his wife Christine in Miami Twp. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Montgomery County. resident, Mark Tarjan shovels his driveway Thursday morning. “Draconian” is how Mark Tarjan described the 43% increase in value on the home he owns with his wife Christine in Miami Twp. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Property taxes increased on more than half of Montgomery County’s residential parcels this year, a repercussion of a countywide reappraisal that saw property values climb by double digit percentages for a majority of owners.

“Draconian” is how Mark Tarjan described the 43% increase in value on the home he owns with his wife in Miami Twp.

“I usually don’t throw words like that around, but it seems a little extreme to me,” said Tarjan, whose annual tax bill on his 1,215-square-foot ranch home went up $1,043, or nearly 30%.

“It took me by surprise,” said the graphic artist now working from home due to the pandemic.

Tarjan is hardly alone.

He’s one of the 1,002 property owners who as of Thursday had filed a formal dispute with the county’s Board of Revision since final valuation notices and tax bills went out three weeks ago. Tentative values mailed out in August prompted owners of 4,021 parcels to ask the auditor for an informal review. Nearly half — 1,982 — resulted in the county decreasing the taxable value; 1,805 were unchanged; and 234 resulted in an increase.

Following a reappraisal last year, 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 Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith.

ExploreMontgomery County: Property value increase at $3.5B after state-ordered adjustment

Montgomery County initially asked the state’s tax commissioner if it could hold off on its sexennial reappraisal during the pandemic, but that was rejected. Then the tentative values the county submitted were rejected. The state didn’t give its approval to Montgomery County until Dec. 31, the longest its ever taken, which led to a delay in mailing out final valuation notices, according to the auditor’s office.

Taxes go up for many

Tim Roberts took his case to the auditor last year and the county lowered the value of his two-story, 1,670-square-foot house in Miamisburg by $20,000. Even after that adjustment, the new tax value of $109,610 represents a 59% increase over the previous value.

“I didn’t do an addition. I didn’t add a bathroom or garage. It’s the same house it was three years ago, six years ago, seven years ago,” he said.

Roberts, an electrician, saw his property tax bill climb 47%, from $1,740 a year to $2,564.

“They used a shotgun pattern to raise whatever they want to,” he said. “If it went up 10%, 15%, even 20%, I probably would have said, well, things get more expensive as you go. But that was an astronomical increase,” he said.

Many homeowners never directly saw their tax bill that was due Friday. But they will eventually see it folded into their monthly house payment.

“If the valuation of a property goes up and the taxing authority increases the tax bill, we essentially take that into account and spread that overage for the next year’s escrow for that particular member’s payment,” said Dave Schlegel, vice president of Servicing for myCUmortgage, which handles mortgages for about 55,000 credit union members in 47 states.

During the first half of last year, about 44% of 205,362 Montgomery County property tax payments were made through mortgage or escrow companies. The remainder were paid either by mail, in person or online, according to the Montgomery County Treasurer’s Office.

Following full reappraisal years, taxes will generally rise for about a third of property owners, remain unchanged for another third and the remainder go down, Keith said. But the recent reappraisal wasn’t typical.

The auditor’s office recently analyzed the overall impact of the 2020 reappraisal and found taxes went up on 52.7% of the county’s residential parcels. The resulting 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 countywide levies.

ExploreCounty sets final property tax values; owners can dispute valuations

“One of the things it illustrates is that even though we had a 15% residential increase in values, that does not correlate to a 15% increase in taxes,” Keith said.

Appeals

Property owners have until March 31 to file an appeal with the county’s Board of Revision.

“You would think given the level of increases that we saw that we would get a record number of appeals. But it’s too early to tell,” Keith said.

The county’s Board of Revision heard a record 7,688 cases in 2009 following the 2008 reappraisal. Residential values went up 4% just as homeowners were reeling from a market downturn now known as the Great Recession.

Jeff Spisak said the tax value of his family’s Washington Twp. home jumped 13.7% to $640,490. While that increase is less than the 15.5% average countywide, he said that’s still far higher than he could sell it for in his neighborhood.

“I couldn’t sell our house for $530,000, let alone $630,000,” he said.

Spisak said an appraiser he hired placed the home’s value at $500,000.

“I realize they’re down on their money, but if you keep jacking up the property values no one’s going to live here anymore and you’re going to end up with a bunch of vacant houses,” he said.

Roberts, Spisak and Tarjan are among Montgomery County property owners who responded to an online questionnaire still available to readers at DaytonDailyNews.com.

ExploreTake survey: Will you dispute new tax value of your home?

Roberts said there seems to be little rhyme or reason to how officials arrive at a property value. A couple who lives near him updated their house, adding a bathroom and replacing the electrical and HVAC systems, and their value went up $100, Roberts said.

“They’re flying under the radar,” Roberts said. “I checked houses within a half mile of mine, and there are huge disparities in what people are paying for what they are living in.”

Appraisers use several factors to determine property values, according to the auditor’s office. Both aerial and ground-level photos of properties are examined. A home’s property description — including its age, construction type and number and type of rooms and its condition — is taken into account, as well as major updates since the previous valuation. Real estate sales of comparable homes within similar areas also factor into the county’s tax valuation.

Montgomery County property tax changes, 2020-2021   
Montgomery County all tax authorities   
 2020 tax charge2021 tax chargeTotal value change
Total$852,299,000$886,411,00013.3%
    
Cities and villages   
Tax authority2020 tax charge2021 tax chargeTotal value change
Dayton$13,438,000$14,847,00011.2%
Kettering$7,557,000$8,703,00015.7%
West Carrollton*$1,093,000$1,960,00014.8%
Union$2,008,000$2,452,00016.4%
Huber Heights$2,782,000$3,104,00017.7%
Miamisburg$2,819,000$3,104,00017.2%
Centerville$1,576,000$1,855,00017.8%
Vandalia$1,431,000$1,594,00011.3%
Oakwood$2,766,000$2,919,00011.8%
Englewood$2,016,000$2,107,00014.3%
Germantown$673,000$738,00017.5%
Clayton$2,671,000$2,723,0009.5%
Moraine$356,000$380,0007.0%
Brookville$143,000$164,00013.6%
Farmersville$160,000$168,00013.3%
Riverside$2,234,000$2,242,00011.8%
New Lebanon$1,045,000$1,052,00014.9%
Phillipsburg$79,000$79,0005.0%
Trotwood**$5,116,000$4,984,00011.5%
Cities and villages total$50,033,000$55,275,000 
    
Townships   
Tax authority2020 tax charge2021 tax chargeTotal value change
Washington Twp.*$28,180,000$29,464,00013.5%
Miami Twp.$11,903,000$12,099,00013.4%
Jackson Twp.*$1,225,000$1,365,0009.5%
Butler Twp.$4,425,000$4,521,0009.3%
German Twp.*$1,923,000$1,998,00010.9%
Jefferson Twp. $2,427,000$2,446,0006.7%
Perry Twp. $1,016,000$1,032,0009.6%
Clay Twp.$1,464,000$1,479,0001.3%
Harrison Twp.$10,012,000$9,942,0007.8%
Townships total$62,709,000$64,642,000 
    
Schools   
Tax authority2020 tax charge2021 tax chargeTotal value change
Centerville City Schools$96,337,000$100,452,00014.9%
Huber Heights City Schools$34,011,000$36,717,00017.4%
Miamisburg City Schools$40,223,000$42,648,00014.3%
Dayton City Schools$80,126,000$82,432,00010.0%
Valley View Local Schools*$6,808,000$8,372,00011.9%
Vandalia-Butler City Schools$27,839,000$29,356,00011.9%
Kettering City Schools$75,798,000$77,176,00015.1%
Miami Valley CTC$15,544,000$16,615,00013.2%
Northmont City Schools$35,188,000$35,915,00012.3%
Oakwood City Schools$25,324,000$25,990,00011.7%
Trotwood-Madison City Schools$10,389,000$10,716,00010.3%
West Carrollton City Schools$22,730,000$23,016,00015.2%
Brookville Local Schools$8,170,000$8,397,00010.6%
New Lebanon Local Schools$2,955,000$3,028,00010.4%
Northridge Local Schools$8,273,000$8,344,0006.5%
Jefferson Local Schools$2,966,000$3,020,0007.3%
Mad River Local Schools$11,314,000$11,263,00011.4%
Schools total$509,152,000$529,318,000 
    
Libraries, parks   
Tax authority2020 tax charge2021 tax charge 
Dayton Metro Library $20,874,000$22,253,000 
Wright Memorial Library*$442,000$945,000 
Five River Metroparks$18,305,000$18,549,000 
Washington Centerville Library $5,172,000$5,309,000 
Washington Township Park District $4,960,000$5,092,000 
Libraries total$26,489,000$28,507,000 
Parks total$23,266,000$23,641,000 
    
Countywide   
Tax authority2020 tax charge2021 tax charge 
Montgomery County General Fund$15,597,000$17,704,000 
Montgomery County Human Services $124,948,000$126,655,000 
Sinclair Community College$36,853,000$37,356,000 
Montgomery County ADAMHS$3,156,000$3,213,000

Auditors also confused

The 2020 reappraisal is not only perplexing to homeowners, it has also left some county auditors scratching their heads.

“There’s still some confusion in our minds as to why the state used a different methodology this year than they’ve ever used in the past,” Keith said.

When completing its 2020 reappraisal, the county auditor’s office took into consideration real estate data from 2017-2019 while the state took into account only 2019 sales, a departure from past practice, Keith said.

The methodology used by the Ohio Department of Taxation bumped total values countywide another $3.5 billion.

The state maintains it didn’t alter its assessment process last year.

“The Department of Taxation has not changed the way in which, and the standards with which, it evaluates proposed valuations submitted by counties, including Montgomery County,” read a statement by the department.

According to the state, the department places more statistical weight on the most recent year (2019) of sales “because it reflects the most accurate picture of the true value of real property as of the tax lien date, which for this cycle is Jan. 1, 2020.”

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds has appealed that county’s state-mandated 20% increase to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, saying throwing out sales data from 2017 and 2018 unfairly skews the numbers.

ExploreButler County auditor appealing 20% property value increase order

Keith said he along with other county auditors are exploring the differences between how the counties and the state determine values, but they have not yet met with the tax commissioner.

“There are a number of us who are having conversations and discussions and trying to figure out what’s different, what happened,” he said.

How to appeal your Montgomery County property value

Montgomery County property owners can formally dispute the new valuation by lodging a complaint by March 31 with the Board of Revision by visiting www.mc-bor.org. For more information about the process, homeowners can call the county’s Real Estate Assessment Department at 937-225-4326.

BY THE NUMBERS

Montgomery County property taxes by the numbers

15.5%

Percent increase of residential property values during 2020 reappraisal

4%

2021 average percentage increase of property tax bills

$886.4M

2021 property tax revenue expected to be collected

$34.1M

Increase in 2021 expected property tax revenues over 2020

52.7%

Percentage of residential parcels that saw 2021 tax increases

14.8%

Percentage of residential parcels that stayed within 2% of 2020 charges

32.5%

Percentage of residential parcels with a 2021 tax decrease