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Some local properties will be reassessed

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GREENFIELD — About a quarter of local homes and businesses will be reassessed for property taxes again this summer, even though a countywide evaluation of properties was just done in 2011.

Hancock County Assessor Mary Noe says per a new state law that went into effect last year, the local office must reassess a quarter of residential, agricultural, commercial and tax-exempt properties each year from 2014-2018. The goal is within the four-year period, all properties will be re-evaluated to ensure their values are up to date.

The reassessments will start in July and could ultimately affect property tax bills. If the assessed value on the home or business rises, the amount of money due in taxes could also rise.

“I don’t expect us to have a lot of change since the last reassessment was 2011 (for 2012 property taxes),” Noe said. “Assuming everyone who has added on or made a change got a permit, we should be good.”

Reassessments this year will likely be in Center and Brandywine townships, Noe said, though a plan for which properties to reassess each year hasn’t been finalized yet. Property owners will notice any changes from this year’s reassessment on their property tax bills payable in 2016.

It’s the county treasurer’s office that often takes the heat for changes in property tax bills because that is where people pay their taxes. Janice Silvey, Hancock County treasurer, said it seems like every year there are plenty of people who have questions about why their property taxes went up; often, the answer is because the home was reassessed.

“If they catch something they’ve not caught before, like if (the property owner has) put on a porch or something and their bill goes up, we get the phone calls and tell them, ‘Your values have changed,’” Silvey said. “I don’t think (the new state law) will change (the process) that much. We’ll probably have a lot of questions, but all we have to do is look at the screen, compare this year to last year and if the values have gone up, we’ll send them to the assessors’ office.”

Noe said the appeals process for property taxes remains the same. Ultimately, the property owner can take concerns to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

The new process for evaluating property values came up last week in a public meeting. Hancock County Commissioners approved private company Nexus Group to assist the local department with reassessments. Noe says the county contracts with the company every year to assist with studies, data collection for larger companies, legal services, appeals and more.

The $120,000 annual contract is typical, though the new state law required the county to put the work out to a competitive bid. No other company bid on Hancock County’s contract, she said.

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