Controversial assessments reversed in Ford County

PAXTON — The Ford County Board of Review voted Thursday afternoon to reverse the controversial new assessments that the county’s former supervisor of assessments had assigned to some 1,300 properties in eight communities last year.

Thursday’s 3-0 vote means the taxable values for the properties that were reassessed in 2017 in the communities of Cabery, Elliott, Kempton, Melvin, Piper City, Roberts, Sibley and Stelle will revert back to what they were in 2016.

The change will only apply to those properties that were “revalued using an improper assessment method,” board of review member Mike Griffin of Paxton said in reading the motion. “If an assessment was changed (in 2017) because of a building being demolished or added, those assessments shall stand as revalued.”

All three members of the board of review — including Griffin, Bob Link of Gibson City and Chairman Ron Bork of Piper City — voted in favor of the change. The board of review’s decision is final, Bork said, noting that the county board will not be required to also approve it.

Patricia Langland resigned from her position as supervisor of assessments earlier in the week, saying that ongoing conflict between her and the county board led to her decision to step down. Langland had been fighting off complaints from unhappy taxpayers for months following the reassessment of properties in the eight rural communities. Langland said the county board seemed to be “working against me because they wanted everything back to the way it used to be. So I just decided I’m better off not doing it.”

Langland said in January — after some residents complained about their new assessments to the county board — that she and the multi-township assessors assigned new taxable values to properties in the eight towns in order to make the assessments in those towns more “equitable.” It was determined that assessments were “out of balance” based on a standard set by the state called the “coefficient of dispersion,” Langland said.

“Some people are way overpaying on taxes, and some people are not paying their fair share,” Langland said. “So, in order to change this, we had to do a reassessment.”

But instead of re-assessing the properties based on recent trends in home sales, Langland and the multi-township assessors based the new values on “equity,” Langland said. Langland and the multi-township assessors categorized each property in each town based on their age, style and condition.

The result was nine categories of properties. A median assessed value was then assigned to each category, Langland said, and that number was then used to determine the cost per square foot to assign to each category for each town. With the new methodology, Langland said, the cost per square foot is the same for each property in a category in a given town.

The board of review recently met with Langland to discuss her reassessment method, discovering in the process that lot values were improperly doubled on some properties’ new assessments, Bork said.

Also, some properties had garages or outbuildings that were not reflected in their taxable square footage, and they were incorrectly placed in a given category as a result. Meanwhile, other properties, based on their square footage, were “over-assessed,” Bork said.

“We also found that (the reassessment of) some of the properties in a given town were not done underneath her new method, which means (properties in that specific town) would have been assessed under two different methods — and that would be incorrect to do,” Bork said. “The (reassessment of) properties in a jurisdictional area all have to be completed the same way.”

Bork and State’s Attorney Andrew Killian later presented what they had noticed to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

“They indicated to us that having two lot values on there was incorrect ... and not including buildings or discluding buildings was not proper,” Bork said. “The state basically said, ‘You need to get it back to where it’s done under one complete set of methods. So that’s what we’re having to do.”

The state indicated that the proper method to reassess the properties would be to “set an equalized value that represents one-third of the fair market value,” Bork said.

That is how all residential properties were assessed before Langland had took over as supervisor of assessments in July 2016.

“We found everything was proper as far as how it was done,” Bork said.

Killian said the methodology Langland used was the “primary reason” for the board of review’s action Thursday, but he said there were other issues, too.

“In addition ... there was some issue with some categories of homes in certain jurisdictions only being assessed at 75 percent of the median level, and it seemed kind of arbitrary as to when those occurred and when the other homes in the same category in a different jurisdiction were assessed at the 100 percent median level,” Killian said.

Killian said he also requested from Langland a copy of the written instructions she was supposed to have issued to her multi-township assessors, but he was not provided with the information. Also, Langland failed to properly post a notice of the annual meeting of the multi-township assessors as required.

Property owners in the eight communities that were reassessed can still appeal their assessments if they would like to proceed with doing so. Prior to Thursday’s vote by the board of review,  103 residents had filed appeals of their assessments.

The board of review voted 3-0 Thursday to hold hearings for each appeal on March 21-22 in the small courtroom at the courthouse in Paxton.

“There’s some that went down that shouldn’t have that are going to be going back up, so we’ve got to give them a right to appeal,” Bork said.

Bork said notices of each property’s revised assessment — which will reflect their 2016 taxable values — will be sent to each property owner by March 2. If they still would like to appeal the assessment, the property owners will be given until March 16 to call the supervisor of assessments office to arrange for a time for a hearing in front of the board of review.

“We will try to do those (hearings) probably from 9 a.m. till hopefully 3 p.m. during the day, but we will allow the call-ins to schedule times so that it’s convenient for everybody,” Bork said.

Comments

The Paxton Record embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. we reserve the right to remove any comment at its discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
AmyLopes wrote on February 26, 2018 at 11:02 pm

Property owners in the eight communities that were reassessed can still appeal their assessments if they would like to proceed with doing so. best restaurants near me open now Prior to Thursday’s vote by the board of review,  103 residents had filed appeals of their assessments.

AmyLopes wrote on February 26, 2018 at 11:02 pm

Bork said notices of each property’s revised assessment — which will reflect their 2016 taxable values — will be sent to each property owner by March 2. best restaurants near me open now If they still would like to appeal the assessment, the property owners will be given until March 16 to call the supervisor of assessments office to arrange for a time for a hearing in front of the board of review.