Auditor Certifies Tax Rates: Bills Mailed 1-19-21
David Thomas
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Auditor Certifies Tax Rates: Bills Mailed 1-19-21

Bills Due Feb 17th- Preparing for Board of Revision

Auditor Certifies Property Tax Rates, Prepares for Board of Revision

Jefferson- Ashtabula County property owners can now go online to view their final property values and tax changes payable in 2021. County Auditor David Thomas announced the completion of and approval by the state for values, tax rates, and final tax assessments for the nearly 80,000 parcels in Ashtabula County.

For property owners who believe their new, 2020 State Mandated Revaluation Values are not accurate, the Board of Revision process is the avenue to dispute values. The deadline to submit the challenge is March 31st.

“Our office worked with the state on new values, ultimately they accepted most of our sales based data but did mandate increases in certain districts,” stated Auditor Thomas. The Auditor’s Office, and local real estate professionals, have been vocal regarding the strong real estate market in Ashtabula County recently.

“We have continually seen new records in property sales. Not only the number of sales, but how quick they move off the market and the price properties have been getting,” explained Auditor Thomas. “The Auditor’s Office cannot adjust tax rates or hear complaints for taxes, but we do change property values and work with residents on their value complaints.” Tax Credits such as the Homestead, Owner Occupancy, and CAUV are available on the Auditor’s website.

The new revaluation values are available on the Auditor’s website and can be examined for accuracy now. The values were the result of visual inspections of all parcels, review of sales data and condition information, and state approval. The Auditor submits the tentative property values to the Department of Tax Equalization who in turn makes recommended changes on a district by district basis, and has the final say on where values finally rest.

“For the first time ever, we mailed every residential property to inform them before tax bills were finalized, of how to view their tentative value so that folks could review and change information early,” explained Auditor Thomas. Thomas went on to say though that most tax payers do not focus in on this until taxes are final.

The largest increases in residential property values occurred in the Saybrook Township-Ashtabula Area City Schools Tax District with a net increase in $13,766,500 in value followed by Conneaut City Tax District of $10,537,030.

The largest decreases in residential property value occurred in the Ashtabula Township-Ashtabula City-Ashtabula City School-Harbor Topky Tax District with a $1,212,650 decrease in value. Denmark Township-Jefferson Area Schools was the second largest decrease with $953,470 lower values.

“It is important to note, for most properties their old value, what shows in our system as 2019 value, is actually from the 2014 Revaluation with the 2017 market update change,” reminded Auditor Thomas. “Your new value is for January 1st of 2020. You may see a large increase, but it is really over six years, not one.”

Following full reappraisal years, taxes will generally rise for about a third of property owners; remain unchanged for another third and the remainder go down. This is the equalization aspect of tying property values to property taxes. Government revenue generally will remain flat.

The fact is not missed on the Auditor’s Office that the 2020 Revaluation was occurring during a pandemic and tax bills will be reaching residents’ homes during an economic downturn. COVID caused delays in the revaluation process but did not alter much of the Auditor’s work. “We have to judge values on the January 1, 2020 date which was pre-pandemic. The state has not given us any flexibility to take into account COVID related concerns for this tax year,” shared Auditor Thomas.

Caution is urged for those who plan to file a value complaint this year based on COVID related issues for 2020. If an individual files a Board of Revision complaint, they cannot file another in the three year revaluation cycle. “Really, next year would be the year to make a pandemic related value complaint as your next year’s taxes will be based on your value from two weeks ago, January 1, 2021,” explained Auditor Thomas. Legislation was introduced in the State Legislature for COVID related value complaints but did not receive action in the last General Assembly.

The Auditor’s office features information on their website to help educate Ashtabula County residents on property taxes and the myth that revaluations occur just to raise taxes and increase government revenue. Auditor David Thomas will be holding a webinar on Wednesday January 13th to review some of the ways residents can learn about their values and research for themselves.

The Ashtabula County Treasurer’s Office will be mailing tax bills shortly with the deadline of February 17th to pay. The Treasurer’s Office handles property tax payments and collections whereas the Auditor’s Office is involved with value determination and tax rate calculations. Tax bills can be viewed on the Auditor’s website.

“Folks get confused with who handles what all the time, but it’s not a problem, reach out and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction,” shared Auditor Thomas. Residents can visit the Auditor’s office in person, however they are encouraged to first call or visit online.

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