Saturday, March 7, 2009

MSMIB asks questions about county auditor and Bexley real estate taxes.


By the most sensitive man in Bexley, Simon Doer

So the housing market is slow or stalled, home prices are down.

Logic would assume that with home values down, based on our firm American foundation of the relationship between taxation and representation, responsive government officials would quickly respond to adjust comparable tax assessments.

Yet in a contrary fashion the Franklin County Auditor’s Office decided simply not to increase house values for 2009, but in a “catch 22” after the fact proposition, was poised to assess any homeowners who recently upgraded their homes, even if the upgrade was simply to maintain market value in the declining market.

If a Bexley resident remodeled a kitchen, bathroom, basement or improved outdoor landscaping and a permit for the work was filed with the City of Bexley, the tax man awaits a return from that expense and labor in 2009.

In an August 6, 2008 news release the Franklin County Auditor Joseph W. Testa advised residents that:

“Residential values will remain unchanged through the next three years.”

“In a first for Franklin County , Testa has ordered no increase in residential values for the 2008 appraisal update. Unless homeowners improve their property or voters pass new tax levies, there will not be an increase in residential real estate taxes payable in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”

Question: Does remodeling always constitute “property improvement” that consistently results in an increased market value of a house from that previously recorded by the Franklin County Auditor?

This sensitive resident checked several neighborhoods and the assessment process. The Franklin County Auditor made a decision, which this resident contends appears to be based on false logic, that while it would not increase tax assessments for 2009 across the board for all residents, it would assess those residents who recently performed permit “improvement” work on their houses.

In one example a neighbor finished a basement and significantly upgraded a kitchen in 2006 without affecting their tax valuation, yet when a next door neighbor performed similar lesser value updates two years later the Franklin County Auditor’s Office revalued that neighbor’s home value using the current “property improvement” guidelines. So although the adjacent neighbor’s updates were simply keeping with adjoining homeowners’ properties the more recent updates resulted in a market value thousands of dollars above the higher end house next door.

Where is the equity and fairness by the Auditor’s Office selecting recent permit work while ignoring earlier updates?

The false logic is that remodeling always increases the value of the homes and that those residences should be singled out as being subject to an increase in the tax assessment. It does not account for remodeling that simply maintains the previously determined value of the house.

Residents intent on merely keeping their home value in line with competing houses in the neighborhood may have remodeled their kitchen, basement or a bathroom during 2007 or 2008. Unfortunately those residents now targeted by the Franklin County Auditor’s Office for an increased market value based on the permit value that was filed with the City of Bexley. So, if your neighbor remodeled their kitchen in 2006 and you simply remodeled to keep pace in 2007 or 2008, you, not your neighbor will experience an increase in Franklin County and resulting Bexley City and school property taxes.

The failed logic is that every remodeling activity results in an equal increase in market value. Houses that are not maintained and remodeled periodically should tend to decline in market value in comparison to neighboring properties. Even if we board up our homes and fail to upgrade them market value continues to keep pace according the Franklin County Auditors.

Is there any evidence that the Franklin County Auditor’s Office reduces the market value of houses that do not keep pace with the value of neighboring homes?

Assume side-by-side Bexley neighbors each with a house of equal market value. If the middle house never remodels during a twenty year period that house’s tax value will still keep pace with neighboring upgraded houses even without remodeling efforts as long as none of the homeowners make additions to their homes. Now adopting the false logic of the Franklin County Auditor’s Office, if the middle house remodeled a kitchen or bathroom during the past year or finished a basement or outdoor landscape two years after the neighbors made those decisions, the middle house will be tax assessed above the value of the neighbors’ houses.

Let’s test the logic theory…. If we boarded up our front windows (as one neighbor did while waiting for new replacement windows) the Most Sensitive Man In Bexley thinks that the value of the house is reduced, but the MSMIB also thinks that the Franklin County Auditor’s Office will not voluntarily reflect a decline in value in the tax assessment process.

That is one sensitive man’s opinion. What is yours?

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Design is copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. The styles MSMIB and Most Sensitive Man In Bexley are the property of Bexley Public Radio Foundation.


Anonymous said...

Who is the most sensitive man in Bexley? He seems more like the most boring man in Bexley. He takes all day to make his (or her) point. Maybe a bored house husband with a corporate power house of a wife who supports him and is happy she is out of the house all day? ZZZZZZZ

WCRX-LP Editorial collective said...

To anonymous: What kind of sense of humor do you have that you think real estate taxes should be interesting?