Janesville51.1°

Board of Review sessions begin

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 16, 2011
— The first three residents to appear before the Janesville Board of Review on Thursday will not be happy to hear the board found in favor of the assessor's office in all three cases.

The five board members said the residents appearing mostly did not submit proper comparable property values. In one case, they said an auction—even though it wasn't the result of a foreclosure—didn't set a fair sale price.


The value of the property is presumed correct unless it is rebutted by sufficient evidence. The assessing department uses comparables and a mass appraisal software program in its assessments.


The taxpayers appearing before the board brought their own spreadsheets and documents. In the end, it wasn't enough to convince the board.


Residents who remain unsatisfied can take their cases either to the circuit court or the state Department of Revenue.


The three residents left council chambers before the board deliberated.


Board of review members are Edward Chady, Thomas Parsons, Brian Laatsch, Nancy Kimball and Joe LeBeau.


Board members have a long road ahead, with 292 objections filed after the recent citywide revaluation. Those represent 65 individuals because some filed on multiple properties. The city has 140 objections from developers who own vacant lots. Another property owner filed 51 objections for a condominium complex.


The board is meeting again this morning and on Saturday. It will meet multiple times in the coming weeks.


Clerk Jean Wulf hopes it can finish by the end of October.


The presentations lasted about 45 minutes each. The board deliberated at the end.


All participants are sworn in, and testimony is taped.


Resident William Hesser, 2436 Oak Brook Court, was the first to present evidence to bolster his claim that his $545,700 assessment should be $411,000.


Hesser questioned how a fair assessment could be made when only one house that sold last year was even in the same range, and that one was not comparable.


Hesser said he didn't believe he could sell his house for $411,000 but was willing to settle for that.


After the hearing, Hesser said he might take the case further as a matter of principle, especially after seeing the evidence the assessor's office presented Thursday.


Mike Hanna represented Simon Hanna. Hanna bought a house at auction last summer for $115,000. Mike Hanna said he lost his mind when the assessment showed $156,000.


Hanna said an appraisal he had done privately put the value at about $148,400.


The auction was not the result of a foreclosure. Still, the board said such an auction doesn't show fair market value because so few people can finance homes bought at auction.


Alexander Ulbrich, 4109 Huntinghorne Drive, brought in a thick bundle of statistics showing what he thought were proper comparables.


It wasn't enough to convince the board that his assessment should decrease from $264,600 to $245,000.


After the hearing, Ulbrich said he had the feeling at the hearing that he was "running into a brick wall" and said the assessor was hiding behind complex statutes and statistics.


Rather, common sense should be used, Ulbrich said. Assessments should reflect the recent drop in property values. Even though values had increased for several years, much of that disappeared during the recent economic troubles.


His refrain was similar to the others heard Thursday.


"I don't think I can sell it for $264,600," he said of his house.



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