Appeal process for assessments

February 26, 2010
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The Grand Rapids Board of Review will begin listening to assessment appeals from residential property owners on Monday, March 15. And for all but a few homeowners, assessments are likely to be down by an average of 6 percent — based on an equalization report issued late last year by the Kent County Bureau of Equalization.

According to that report, the State Equalized Value for all residential properties in the county will fall this year by 5.94 percent from last year.

The SEV should drop by 5.36 percent in the county’s townships, with the largest declines coming in Grattan (11.72 percent), Lowell (11.02 percent) and Sparta (10.83 percent) townships.

The overall drop in SEV for cities is projected to be 6.56 percent, with the largest declines coming in Kentwood (10.23 percent), Wyoming (7.03 percent) and Grandville (6.45 percent). The values of homes in Grand Rapids should fall by an average of 6.26 percent.

An SEV is roughly half a property’s market value. Values have been driven down as foreclosures have forced prices down. Home sellers have been competing with bank-owned properties that have been selling at a discount.

Homeowners who have owed back taxes since this time last year will have their properties placed on a forfeiture list, which is maintained by the Kent County Treasurer. Being on the list, though, doesn’t necessarily mean the county will foreclose on a home. According to state law, owners have two years and one month to pay delinquent property taxes in order to avoid a tax foreclosure.

Kent County Sheriff sales of tax-delinquent properties fell by 807 last year from 2008, to a total of 3,148 in 2009. The forfeiture listed is updated March 31 every year.

The county adds a title search fee of $175, recording fees of $20 and a 6 percent interest charge to a delinquent tax bill when homeowners don’t pay their back taxes by March 1 each year.

The six-member Board of Review will meet through March 26 to evaluate appeals. The city assessor’s office completed its review of appeals Feb.12; the chance to appeal a residential assessment for this year has passed. The situation is the same for commercial and industrial real property assessments. But commercial, industrial and utility personal property assessments can be appealed this month or to the state’s Tax Tribunal until May 31.

The taxable value of all residential properties in the county should fall by $648.8 million to $13.1 billion this year. The taxable value of all properties in the county should fall by $888.55 million this year to $20.94 billion, meaning all governments in the county will receive less tax revenue from this summer’s property-tax bills. This year’s taxable value is based on property assessments that were done last year.

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