From the Fall, 2011, Wayne Township Newsletter
My staff and I are currently working on the 2011 General Assessment, formerly called the Quadrennial Reassessment. We expect to complete the General Assessment by mid-November. Each homeowner will then receive an assessment notice, and the assessments will be published in the Examiner newspapers. The appeal deadline will be thirty days after the publication date.
Residents who file appeals will need to demonstrate that their assessments exceed one-third of market value, using 2008-2010 sales. No sales that have occurred after January 1, 2011, can be considered in the 2011 assessments, nor can we consider listing prices of homes that are currently on the market.
In the twenty years I have worked in the property assessment field, there has never been a more challenging environment. The property tax has always been unpopular, but today more and more people are highly critical of federal, state and local governments’ taxation and spending, which never seems to go down.
Property taxes are a key source of revenue for local governments, including schools, villages, counties, libraries and park districts. When real estate prices (and assessments) are increasing, people assume that their annual tax increases are a result of the assessment increases. The past two years have proven that taxes can still increase when assessments are flat, as they were in 2009, or decreasing, as they were in 2010. This is because most local taxing districts continue to increase their spending levels each year.
For 2011, assessments will again be reduced, although possibly not as quickly as most homeowners expect, because we are required to use sales from 2008 through 2010 to calculate the assessments. The use of three years of sales results in more gradual assessment changes, both when the market is increasing and decreasing. In an increasing market the assessments will tend to be below the most recent sale prices, while in a declining market assessments will tend to be above current sale prices.
The assessed values that I submit to the DuPage County Supervisor of Assessments (SOA) are subject to statistical review. If I make reductions to assessments that result in a level of assessments that is below the level dictated by the sales that closed between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2010, the assessments will receive an equalization factor from the SOA, raising them to the required level.
My staff and I frequently speak to homeowners who have refinanced their homes, and who have appraisals that are below the market value indicated by their assessments. The Board of Review gives very little weight to these appraisals for several reasons. First and foremost, such an appraisal typically clearly states that the purpose of the appraisal is for a mortgage finance transaction, and no other purpose or use is authorized. Second, these appraisals are often based on comparable sales data that occurred after the assessment date. These appraisals also frequently contain erroneous data regarding the property characteristics of the subject or comparable properties. Finally, these appraisals present values at a specific moment in time, while we are required by state statute to present values based on the three-year window in time.
As always, my staff and I are also working to ensure assessment uniformity in each neighborhood across the township. Please understand that I am powerless to change the overall level of taxation. If I reduce values for one homeowner or one group of homeowners, it will cause taxes to increase for other homeowners. As long as uniformity exists, the level of assessments is less important because tax rates will automatically adjust to ensure that taxing bodies receive the same tax dollars. Higher assessments result in lower tax rates, and lower assessments result in higher tax rates.
Some residents across the county have received mass-mailed solicitations from individuals offering to represent them in assessment appeals. If a homeowner wants to appeal his/her assessment, he/she has access to sales information through our website, and can easily compare his/her assessment to similar homes to verify uniformity without having to pay consultants.
I will update this article when the publication date and appeal deadlines are available.