Attorney Jeff Cooke is celebrating a Tuesday decision by the Indiana Board of Tax Review that Tippecanoe County Assessor Linda Phillips improperly issued an interim property assessment on Cooke’s downtown Lafayette law office building.
The assessor last September notified Cooke that his building at 331 Columbia St. was valued at $161,900, then on Dec. 30 mailed another notice stating the assessment had been changed to $272,300.
He appealed to the Tippecanoe County Property Tax Board of Review, which in April upheld Phillips’ decision and the $113,400 increase.
Cooke then appealed to the state, claiming Phillips did not provide any data, such as comparable building sales, rental income or replacement costs, to show how the revised value was determined.
Phillips’ attorney, Brian Cusimano, contended the data and the IncomeWorks software program used to calculate property values is confidential because it contains income and loss information that could harm other property owners.
The assessor is required by Indiana statute to explain the reasons for an interim assessment, specifically why an action was taken, and the facts or evidence on which the reasons were based, the Indiana Board of Tax Review ruled.
But Phillips “failed to designate any evidence to support” her belief that Cooke’s property was undervalued, the Indiana Board of Tax Review said.
The ruling goes on to state, “The board finds the interim assessment was improperly issued.” The assessed value for 2013 was reduced to $161,000.
Another element in the decision is the fact that appeals of the 2011 and 2012 assessments of Cooke’s building are still pending before the Indiana Board of Tax Review. A hearing on those cases is scheduled for September.
Phillips filed the appeals in an effort to overturn reductions in the building’s assessed value that Cooke won from the county property tax board of appeals.
The county board decreased the 2011 assessed value of $235,300 to $171,800, and also decreased the 2012 assessed value of $247,200 to $171,800.
Cooke said his next step will be to ask the Indiana Board of Tax Review to issue judgments in those cases, too.