JEFFERSON — Ashtabula County property owners can now go online to view their final property values and tax changes payable in 2021.
Values, tax rates and final tax assessments for the nearly 80,000 parcels in Ashtabula County have been completed and approved by the state, County Auditor David Thomas said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
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 31.
“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,” Thomas said. The auditor’s office and local real estate professionals have been vocal regarding the strong real estate market in Ashtabula County.
“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,” Thomas said. “The Auditor’s Office cannot adjust tax rates or hear complaints for taxes, but we do change property values and work with residents regarding their complaints.”
Tax Credits such as the homestead, owner occupancy and CAUV are available on the auditor’s website.
The new values were the result of visual inspections of all parcels, review of sales data and condition information, and state approval. Thomas 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,” Thomas said.
During Monday night’s Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education meeting, Thomas was a guest speaker. He said the largest increases in residential property values were in the Saybrook Township — Ashtabula Area City Schools Tax District — with a net increase in $13.8 million in value. Conneaut City Tax District followed with a net increase of $10.5 million, he said.
Saybrook Township Trustee Norman Jepson said Saybrook tries to be an up-to-date community without raising taxes. He believes one reason Saybrook’s property values are going up is its association with Lake Erie.
The largest decreases in residential property value occurred in Ashtabula Township — Ashtabula City and Ashtabula Area City Schools-Harbor Topky Tax District with a $1.2 million decrease in value. Denmark Township in Jefferson Area Local Schools was the second largest decrease with $954,000 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,” Thomas said. “Your new value is for Jan. 1, 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, he said.
Thomas said he knows the 2020 revaluation occurred during a pandemic and residents will get their tax bills during an economic downturn.
“We have to judge values on the Jan. 1, 2020 date which was pre-pandemic,” he said. “The state has not given us any flexibility to take into account COVID-related concerns for this tax year.”
Thomas cautions property owners 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, Jan. 1, 2021,” Thomas said. 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 website offers help to educate Ashtabula County residents on property taxes. Thomas will be holding a webinar at 6 p.m. today to review some of the ways residents can learn about their values and research for themselves. The link to the webinar is on the auditor’s website.
The Ashtabula County Treasurer’s Office will be mailing tax bills shortly with the deadline of Feb. 17 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.