There has been a growing problem for a few years where local taxing entities challenge property values. In some areas of the state, there have been law firms that convince primarily school districts to enter into an agreement to file complaints against the value of properties. While a local taxing authority may believe the assessed value is incorrect, what often happens is that a wide net is thrown to maybe find some missed value. It is many times allowed by the public entities under the cover that they allow the law firms to file these types of complaints while hiding behind the claim that the board knew nothing about it.
There have been numerous attempts from previous General Assemblies to achieve a fairer process. One bill would have taken the right of counterclaim away from virtually anyone. Another would have made the loser pay for costs and expenses. Others created a shortened list of who could be involved. These attempts were directly because the appearance of unfairness by those making broad claims.
HB 343, was recently passed by the House Ways & Means Committee and attempts to bring more of a sense of fairness and accountability to the process. Representative Derek Merrin’s effort will still allow claims, but will require the board to pass a resolution laying out which properties will have claims for value. This problem being resolved is much more likely to occur in the cities and their surrounding suburbs. This bill would simply ask government officials to take greater care in filing countercomplaints to those properties clearly deserving of reconsideration.
To recap, HB 343 would retain all rights of public entities to file claims contesting value, but requires the boards to exhibit more responsibility for these decisions. This is simply making certain that there is more transparency in the interactions between our governmental entities and their taxpayers. We will continue to follow and support this bill as it progresses.