Thursday, March 26, 2009

Realtors, Homeowners call "FOUL" on Peoria Board of Review

The Peoria County Board of Review has come under fire from multiple sources recently regarding policies and decisions made by them at the Property tax Board of Review level.

For background, please refer to this article by Karen McDonald of the PJStar and this article and this article by DeWayne Bartels of the Times Observer. Outstanding, detailed coverage is why they get paid the BIG BUCKS! heh heh.

For the past several weeks, I have been receiving copies of letters and e-mails addressed to various county board representatives and Administrators from taxpayers pleading for their claims of unfair treatment at the hands of the B of R to be investigated and addressed by the entire county board. Apparently, this has been on-going for several years, but the county board has never undertaken any serious investigation into the allegations.

I can understand the taxpayers level of frustration. At the last County Board meeting (which I attended) many of them addressed the full board. My reaction as well as the reaction of those who spoke was that 1. their concerns were marginalized 2. blame was transferred from one county entity to another and 3. The Board attorney refused to allow any testimony that would cast the Board of Review in a bad light and 4. The few board members that did agree and sympathize with the taxpayers (Widmer, Baietto and a lady (not sure of her name)) were met with smirks and eye rolls from several of their fellow county board members. This is not hearsay, I saw it with my own two eyes!

Today there will be an important County Board real estate tax committee meeting of which I cannot attend but these are the issues as I see them. I will refer frequently to Karen McDonald's article in the Peoria Journal Star.

Shadid says: "When an individual brings a property, the result of our decision will have an effect on their neighbors. If we do lower it it has to be based on some sound evidence that the neighborhood is depreciating"

Fact: Their only task at a Board of Review hearing should be to identify the FAIR MARKET VALUE of the particular property in question. Attempting to factor in "the big picture" is being fundamentally unfair to the appellant.

Shadid says: County officials say a change in the process has prompted more complaints. "Now property owners must file standardized forms and follow procedures that did not exist before."

Fact: This is patently UNTRUE. I filed my first protest in Peoria County over 10 years ago and the appellant must still follow virtually the same procedure and fill out nearly identical grids. The current Bd of R. policies require additional documentation that has made it more time consuming for the appellant but other than that the procedure has been relatively unchanged.

Shadid says: "Some property owners are attempting to get lower assessments using distressed sales, or foreclosures, as being comparable to the worth of their property, which are deemed invalid by the Supervisor of Assessments and Illinois Department of Revenue."

Fact: The fact that a property was sold as a foreclosure does not give the Board of Review license to throw common sense out the window. Foreclosures and bank sales are becoming increasingly common these days and the fact is that many of them are sold the exact same way a non-foreclosure is sold. That is, put on the market via the MLS and sold at the highest price the market will bear. The B of R is claiming far too frequently that a recent sale price is not in fact a reflection of its fair market value when most often it is! Ask yourself this. Under what circumstances would any seller (whether it be a bank or individual) want to sell a property for less than the market will bear? The Board of Reviews ONLY mission is to identify the FAIR MARKET VALUE of the ONE subject property at issue. Much of their arguments are red herrings and are only further indication that they are not being fair to the individual taxpayer.

A few last minute points. The Peoria County Board of Review is systematically arguing in case after case that home values are HIGHER than what a willing buyer has paid a willing seller after being subject to normal competition in the market place. In simpler terms, imagine a scenario where you purchase a home for $100,000 and the very same year the Board of Review tells you your home is really worth $140,000, and THAT is what they will base your taxes on. This is what I would consider "manufacturing" home values, and should not be allowed to continue.

Further, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that if you are turned down at the Peoria B of R level, you MUST APPEAL to the state. This is the only way the local B of R will get the message that we are serious. Do not let anyone tell you that it is a long and difficult process. That would be untrue. It is certainly no more difficult, and the amount of time should have no bearing, because if you win, you will be entitled to a refund of your overpayment.

Here is an e-mail I just received from Realtor and homeowner Brian Monge of Jim Maloof Realtor:

“Fair” property taxes in Peoria? It has always been my understanding that property taxes should be based off the fair market value of your home and that figure is derived from what your home would bring on the open market. This is not how the current system works.I recently purchased a home for $72,000 (a home in very good condition, not a bank foreclosure). A home the owner had on the market for over one year, trying to get a higher sale price. The board of review changed the “fair” market value from $101,000 to $92,000 (not the true market value of $72,000). This is only one example of many! The idea of the Peoria County Board of Review members clearly inflating market values is unethical, most likely illegal, and a slap in the face to the Peoria County residents they are suppose to serve. I urge all Peoria County Board Members and taxpayers to review the current Peoria Property Tax Board of Review members and take immediate action to move this county forward in a fair and just direction.

All eyes should be on the County Board to see what if anything they will do to correct these perceived inequities. Homeowners in Peoria do not want preferential treatment, they only expect FAIR treatment. Peoria home owners should pay taxes on what their home is actually worth, not what the Board of Review hopes it will be worth.


leslie110 said...

We need to have what California has. The taxes are based on the sale price of the house, regardless of any increase/decrease in value. There is no subjectivity in that process.

Diane Vespa said...

Leslie, I agree!

Diane Vespa said...

Please see Peoria Pundit article here for details on a public hearing