Monday, April 14, 2014

Journal & Courier Reports Lawyer Questions Tippecanoe County Assessor's Work

From the Lafayette Journal & Courier:

Attorney Jeff Cooke has asked the state to intervene in a two-year dispute withTippecanoe County Assessor Linda Phillips regarding the assessed value of his downtown Lafayette office building.

On Thursday, Cooke petitioned the Indiana Board of Tax Review after learning that the county’s Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals upheld a $113,400 increase in the value of his law office building in the 300 block of Columbia Street.

Cooke, during a March 6 hearing, asked the appeals board to reduce the assessment from the $275,300 value the assessor’s office set in December to the $161,900 value the staff initially placed on the building in August.

He also wanted to see the data the assessor’s staff entered into IncomeWorks, a software program the county uses to calculate comparable sales, rental income or replacement costs to establish assessed values on commercial buildings. The values help determine local government tax rates, and they figure into each property owner’s tax bill.

Jesse Wolenfang, an employee in the assessor’s office, replied that Cooke’s building was re-evaluated based on potential rental income because the staff believed the original assessment, based on comparable property sales, was incorrect.

Brian Cusimano, assistant general counsel for Nexus Group Property Tax Consultants,said the data and the IncomeWorks calculations were confidential because they contain income and loss data that could harm other property owners.

Cooke said he will ask the Indiana Board of Tax Review to combine his petition with two other petitions Phillips previously filed concerning the 2011 and 2012 property assessments on his building.