Property evaluations starting next month

Published 12:33 am Sunday, September 7, 2014

The tax bills for the upcoming property re-evaluations won’t be sent out for another 29 months, but the process of determining the accuracy of information on the tax books is starting now.

Training will begin in early October for the photographers who will go out in the field snapping shots of each of the 55,000 parcels in the county. There will be five to six teams of two photographing the outside of every property.

“One of the things that concerns me is I want people to understand we are not trying to be nosy,” County Auditor Jason Stephens said.

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“They will simply be outside taking pictures. If they are posing as being with the auditor’s office and want inside, they are not really a county auditor’s representative.”

These photographs, which will not be online, will provide information professional assessors will use to determine the grade of each parcel. Before photography was used, individuals went out across the county grading properties.

“It would be subjective,” Chris Kline, chief deputy auditor, said. “You could have 15 different opinions. Now they come back with a photograph.”

The next step in the appraisal process will come later this year when the auditor’s office sends out mailer, which will allow the property owners to confirm the accuracy of the description of the parcel that is currently on file with the auditor.

“If they have access to the Internet, they can verify if our information is correct or if there should be changes,” Stephens said. “If someone has pulled down a barn or building, it doesn’t need to be on the tax bill.”

If Internet is not available, the mailer contains a form that can be filled out by the homeowner.

However, that information must be provided. If not, a representative from the auditor’s office will go out to talk with the homeowner.

Every six years the auditor’s office is required by the Ohio Revised Code to review the accuracy of all real property.

“My goal is that the appraisal is fairly done and treats everyone in Lawrence County fairly,” Stephens said. “It is important real estate is reflected with an accurate value. Your property value is accurate and your neighbor’s is. Property valuation is the cornerstone of what all government is based on.”