stack of over 9,000 assessment appeals would be a tall order for any county
government, but Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, his staff, and the
Property Tax Board of Appeals accomplished the seemingly insurmountable task
in just a shade under two years.
During a press
conference Tuesday at the County Administration Center, Snyder said 7,038
appeals from 2006-2010 were still pending when he took his oath of office in
January 2011 and grew by 2,000 more later that year.
that over $15 million, as well as $1 million in interest, of property tax
has been refunded to taxpayer pockets. County Auditor Bob Wichlinski later
on Tuesday said that the net effect of reconciliation on the appeals for
taxing units across the county is $29 million.
subsequent steps to revamp the PTABOA board to be quicker and more efficient
by reducing the number of board members from five to three. That allowed the
board to meet more often since a quorum could be established more easily.
Sitting on the PTABOA board currently are its president Joe Wszolek,
vice-president Vicki Urbanik and Nick Sommer.
Sommer are Commissioner appointees; Urbanik, the bipartisan board’s sole
Democrat, is the Council’s appointment.
Sommer replaced PTABOA member Jeff Sederberg, who also contributed to the
appointed two of his staff to work on the appeal backlog full time. He also
credited Portage Assessor’s office, the county auditor’s office, the board
of Commissioners, and the County Council.
have worked tirelessly to reach this important milestone,” said Snyder,
adding the task was not an easy one. “I am extremely proud of my staff and
applaud them for accomplishing what some thought was impossible.”
properties made up roughly 75 percent of the appeals and commercial
properties around 25 percent. While the appeal refunds do impact the revenue
collected by taxing units, there is a benefit in the fact that the county
will not have to pay as much interest with the backlog whittled down, Snyder
With the appeals
under control, Wszolek said that taxing units can “finally begin functioning
with a budget they can depend on.”
2012 went out at the end of last month and so far nearly 2,000 appeals have
been sought and close to 800 of those have been screened out, Snyder said.
As the state requires, taxpayers have 45 days to file an appeal with the
assessor’s office. The last day to do so is Nov. 13.
Appeals can also
be filed online at
started last year. Porter County is the first and only county in the state
currently to offer an online appeal option.
“Our office will
implement safeguards to ensure that the words ‘backlog’ and ‘appeal ‘are not
in the same sentence again,” Snyder said.
for 2012 appeals are starting to be scheduled. Chief Deputy of the
Assessor’s office Daniel Timm said they will still be screening the appeals
for any “low-hanging fruit” the staff can clear up first, sparing taxpayers
the process of having to go through the PTABOA.
Snyder said he
expects 3,000 appeals to be filed this year, which has been about the
average compared to recent years. Many of those who appeal do so year after
year. And even though about 75 percent of the county’s 80,000 parcels saw
lower assessments, appeals still have been steady. This year’s assessments
also reflect reassessment numbers which the state requires ever five years.
Not included in
the reconciliations are any appeals made by the County’s steel mills since
they are now assessed by the state, Snyder said.