TRUMBULL CO. Board hears tax gripes

Last year, about half the people who challenged their property tax bill got some relief.
WARREN -- Some people complain about their property taxes; others try to do something about them.
The Trumbull County Board of Revision began hearings Monday to give people a chance to have their tax bills adjusted.
Those with appointments before the board are mostly homeowners, but there are industrial properties too, one of which, a Vienna factory, is trying to get $2 million knocked off its appraised value.
"I'll give it a shot," said Robert Puharich, who estimates his house on Singing Hills, Howland, is worth about $22,000 less than the county auditor's office appraised it at. "I'm willing to negotiate."
Flood of people: Fifty-five people have lined up to meet with the board, composed of representatives of the auditor's and treasurer's offices.
Last year, more than 300 people came in after taxes went up as the result of a reassessment of some 130,000 properties, officials said.
"Me, personally, I think people have a right to adjust their taxes," said Auditor David Hines.
More than half the people who pleaded their cases in 2000 got some relief. "Most people are honest and I never said that we are infallible," Hines said.
The auditor's office did not routinely send people to visit and reappraise properties this year.
Homeowners may also come to think their bill is unfair after talking to neighbors, or seeing the new bill for the first time. For some people, the shock of opening the bill a few months back was enough to jar them to schedule an appearance before the board.
How to fix it: To get their tax bill reduced, they need to prove the county overestimated the property's market value, said Robert Stanton a deputy auditor who sits on the board.
Puharich came in armed with a box of photographs that showed an unremodeled interior of his 30-year-old home.
"We did external improvements to keep up with the Joneses," said Puharich, a supervisor at City Machine Technologies in Youngstown, but the inside has not kept up.
"It's like looking at a used car that just got painted, but is still leaking oil underneath."
He will not learn the board's decision on his case until June, when the next tax bill comes in the mail.
Some of the larger cases the board will review over the next few weeks are ADT Corp., which seeks to reduce the evaluation of its plant at 1455 Ridge Road, Vienna, from $7.5 million to $5.7 million; Cafaro Management Co., in Vienna, which seeks to have the evaluation of an airport hangar built in 1999 reduced from $367,900 to $225,000; J & amp;K Lapolla Ltd., which seeks to reduce the evaluation of its 8588 E. Market St. property from $452,000 to $370,000; and Strimbu Warehouse Trucking and Crane Co., which seeks to reduce the evaluation of a Parkway S.E., Brookfield, property from $42,000 to $10,210.
The deadline to file with a hearing before the board of revision was March 31.

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