Representative Duncan promises change in taxes
Industrial property to be refigured

Wanda English-Burnett, Editor

Residential property in Ripley County will not be reassessed, but industrial property most likely will. That was the bottom line of an hour long hearing held by the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) last Wednesday in the Ripley County Commissioners’ Room, Versailles.

A Power Point presentation was given by Barry Wood from DLGF outlining the reasons the hearing was being held.

Wood noted that the need for reassessment, or retrending in this case, is due to the fact that the industrial properties do not meet the standards set forth by the state. When the company, Appraisal Research Corp., hired to do the retrending, submitted their findings, they did not fall within the state guidelines. It was noted by DLGF Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave that 79 of the 97 parcels in Ripley County reflected no change.

However, a summary of Ripley County’s trending submitted by Appraisal Research Corp. to the assessor showed that the county came within the accepted ratio for all property including industrial.
At the beginning of the hearing it was noted by state officials that it was possible that not all information was figured into the statistics that put Ripley County in the unacceptable range for industrial property.

A letter from DLGF that was made public at a commissioner’s meeting earlier noted that some townships in the county were outside the acceptable range of assessment accuracy even for residential property. However, state officials agreed that some data had not been incorporated (at the time of the letter) and they felt that residential retrending was no longer an issue.

Information presented by DLGF stated, “a county-wide analysis of gross assessed values on all classes of industrial parcels revealed that 81% of these parcels had no change in assessed values from the 2005 reassessment year to the 2006 assessment year.”

Since there was a lack of sales data to complete the retrending process for industrial property, another formula had to be used. The assessor, Shawna Bushhorn, did obtain a copy of Marshall & Swift cost and depreciation tables as was instructed, for this process.

Commissioner Musgrave said there were 21 of the 92 Indiana counties that were reviewed by her department. Some were reassessed in all areas.

Since Ripley County is dealing only with industrial, the same vendor - Appraisal Research Corp. - will do the work. They have pledged to do this with minimal cost to the county. It should be completed by mid-January with revised bills sent only to those owning industrial property by March of 2008.
But, the bottom line at the hearing was, “nothing has been decided,” in terms of exactly what property will be reassessed, if any.

Councilman Ed Armbrecht questioned the reasoning behind the retrending of property that could potentially cost the county, “more than it’s worth.” He noted, “We don’t need to be spending any money.”

Some county residents attended the hearing hoping to gain knowledge about why their residential property taxes had increased. While these individuals were allowed to voice their concerns, they would quickly find out the public hearing did not concern residential properties and their only option was an appeal on the local level.

While taxpayers voiced their displeasure at the retrending and property taxes in general, it was questioned if agriculture property would see a hike next year. Representative Cleo Duncan addressed the crowd, promising, “the legislature will make some major changes in property taxes...I wouldn’t take it to the bank that any property taxes will raise.” She said every effort is being made to restructure property taxes so it’s more fair for everyone. “I think you’re going to be seeing a major, permanent tax’ll be happy.”

Others in attendance who questioned the fairness of tax computation were local builder Barney Adams and his business partner Doug Thayer. Juanita Lawson was not happy with her tax bill saying she bought a new home and didn’t feel she had been given accurate information when she asked how much her taxes would be. Paul Myer also questioned why his property was figured higher than what it was worth.

Commissioner Musgrave told those with concerns they could file an appeal locally, (most have already done this) and she would be glad to take their message of concern to the governor.

The hearing ended an hour after it began with local property taxpayers feeling as though they knew nothing more about the problem of higher taxes than before the hearing was held.

For those who would like to comment on the reassessment or ask questions, this email address was provided:

The Commissioners' Room was full at the public hearing held last Wednesday, October 10 concerning taxes. Councilman Ed Armbrecht took the podium questioning the reasoning behind a decision that could cost the county "more than it's worth."