Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Times: The Age of Reassessment

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

Alert the police. Northwest Indiana tax officials are reassessing again.
Sending teams of deputy assessors out to eyeball homes, businesses, empty subdivision lots and sweeping farm fields may not sound like an invitation for trouble, but past Lake County reassessments have prompted threats, appeals and litigation.
While the purpose is to fine-tune official property value records, there have been instances of miscounting a home's bathrooms and garages or erroneously declaring a small, vacant lot worth $1.2 billion.
But the process is only beginning and no one expects trouble yet, although some township assessors are advising police where their inspection teams will be, just in case.
Porter and LaPorte County assessors and Lake County's township assessors for Crown Point, Gary, Griffith, Merrillville and the Tri-Town area will be doing the work with their own staffs.
Lake officials are preparing to hire a private vendor to conduct work in Cedar Lake, East Chicago, Hammond, Highland, Hobart, Lake Station, Lowell, Munster, New Chicago, Schneider, Whiting and Winfield and the rest of the county outside of city and town limits.
They must choose between Nexus Group, of Indianapolis, which conducted much of the county's reassessment ending two years ago, and Tyler Technologies, of Dallas, which did a reassessment a decade ago.
Nexus has bid $3,684,000 and Tyler Technologies, $3,474,200, to cover work through 2018.
Lake County Assessor Jolie Covaciu, who is running for election this fall, faces a dilemma.
She opens herself to political carping about favoritism if she picks Nexus. She worked for that firm until last fall when a Republican caucus named her the county assessor.
But selecting Tyler could arouse the ire of local officials and taxpayers who recall the tumultuous 2002 reassessment.