Deadline to appeal property assessments is Monday

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CARROLL COUNTY -- Property owners have less than a week left to appeal their property assessments with the Carroll County Equalization Board.

County Clerk Jamie Correia said applicants must submit necessary paperwork to her by 4:30 pm on Aug. 20.

The board addresses complaints by property owners who feel their property has been appraised too high.

A county-wide reassessment was completed in July, and letters were sent out mid-month to those whose assessments had increased.

The County contracts with Arkansas CAMA Technology, Inc., of Little Rock to perform the assessment.

Dennis Wells, project manager for the company, said he had received 295 calls as of Wednesday from property owners who had concerns about their assessments.

Wells said the majority of these concerns could be addressed informally.

Once the company has received a complaint, they check their data and, if they find any errors, adjust the assessment accordingly.

Before Aug. 1, the company can make these changes without further approval. However, once August rolls around, all changes to assessments must be signed off on by the board.

Wells said those who have concerns and have still not contacted the company should lodge a formal appeal. Otherwise, he said, their concerns might not be addressed before the Aug. 20 deadline.

Wells said about 50 property owners had lodged formal appeals with the Equalization Board so far this year. Correia said the average was 30 to 100. Ten appeals were addressed at the board's first meeting last Monday.

Once an appeal has been filed, Correia said, she sets a date for the property owner to go before the Equalization Board.

She then sends a copy of the appeal form, along with the property owner's name and parcel number, to Wells. On the date of the hearing, Wells brings in data used in the assessment, along with a list of comparable properties and their data.

The burden of proof lies with the property owner, and unless the assessment can be proven inaccurate, it will stand.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has provided guidelines to determine whether a property's value should be reduced. These are:

1. The assessment is unfair compared with other lands of the same kind which are similarly situated
2. The assessment is clearly erroneous.
3. The assessment is manifestly excessive.

All 2012 assessments are current as of Jan. 1. If the property owner can supply a more current appraisal that differs from this assessment, they are usually successful, Wells said.

"If you have a current appraisal, about 99 percent of the time that's what the board will go with," he said.

If an appeal is denied by the board, Correia said, property owners can file a petition and take their case to the County Court. The deadline to file is Oct. 8, and there is a $10 fee.

If the County Court rejects their petition, property owners may then appeal the decision to the Circuit Court. The court of last resort is the Arkansas Supreme Court.

While property owners do have these recourses, Correia said they were usually unnecessary. Appeals are usually successful at the board level.

Wells said total property value in the county had declined 3.59 percent since 2009. The value of timber land declined 4 percent, and the value of pasture land increased 2 percent, he said.

Wells said the next assessment would likely not happen until 2017. The county currently operates on a 3-year cycle. However, State law stipulates that it will change to a 5-year cycle if property value increases dip below 15 percent in three years.

To learn For more information about how to appeal your assessment, call the Carroll County Clerk's Office at 870-423-2022 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m, or stop by the office at 210 West Church St. in downtown Berryville.

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