2019 homes sales contribute to high reappraisals

by Judy Stringer

Property owners in Summit County have until March 31 to challenge the new valuation of their property.

John LaMonica, chief of staff for Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen M. Scalise, said Scalise’s team has been fielding “numerous calls” from homeowners questioning large increases in their property values. LaMonica said rising home prices are to blame, particularly given a last-minute decision by State Tax Commissioner Jeff McClain to use only home sales in 2019 for the 2020 reappraisal rather than the traditional practice of using sales from the past three years.

“All the auditors were surprised, and we weren’t unfortunately informed of this change until after we had submitted our initial appraisal,” he said.

State officials told the county its initial submission – in which residential property values would have increased 8.8 percent countywide since the last appraisal in 2017 – was “too soft,” according to LaMonica, and “would need to come in at around 14 percent.”

After a second proposal that would have raised values by 9.9 percent was also denied, LaMonica said the tax commission accepted the county’s third submission, a 12 percent increase overall. Property values in Hudson rose by about 10 percent, he said.

The 2020 sexennial reappraisal was required by Ohio law, which stipulates the fiscal office “bring properties up to market value” every six years and update those values every three years, LaMonica said. Sexennial reappraisals are different than appraisals done for home financing purposes, added Deputy Fiscal Officer Dominic Basile, because they group neighboring homes into “submarkets” rather than appraising each home separately and rely more heavily on what it would cost to build the home today. 

“Then we turn to the sales,” Basile said, “to determine whether those new cost ratio values are actually in line with the market. If they aren’t, we tweak them to bring them in line with recent sales within each of those neighborhoods or sub-markets.”

LaMonica said the goal was to end up with appraised values that were 95 percent of the actual market value. A home that would sell for $100,00, for example, should be appraised at about $95,000.

LaMonica also stressed that increases in home value do not necessarily mean there will be a significant rise in property taxes. A state law keeps a large portion of property taxes, called “outside millage” from growing with inflation, explained Hudson City School Treasurer and CFO Phil Butto. So tax bill increases as a result of rising property values are primarily derived from “inside milage,” which increases alongside home values but is also only a small fraction of levied taxes. Inside mills account for 4.23 of the 43.9 mills of the 2020 tax bill going to Hudson schools. He anticipates the schools will see a $590,000 bump in revenue from this latest assessment.

However, Butto said, reduction factors that prevent outside millage taxes from edging up in hot housing markets happen “at the gross level,” meaning they are applied to what the schools and other taxing entities, like the city and county, collect as a whole, not on individual tax bills “which may fluctuate up and down.”

LaMonica said property owners can appeal to the Board of Revisions – online at fiscaloffice.summitoh.net/index.php/board-of-revision-complaint — if they feel their new valuation was too high.