COLUMBIANA CO. Panel will monitor reappraisal

Any property tax increases resulting from the reappraisal won't take effect until 2005.
LISBON -- An advisory committee of area residents, business people and governmental officials will monitor a Hudson firm hired to reappraise property values in Columbiana County.
Based on a recommendation by the committee, county Auditor Nancy Milliken hired John G. Clemingshaw Inc. on Thursday to begin the state-mandated reappraisal next year.
How long: It will take Clemingshaw about two years to complete the task, aimed at determining updated market values of the nearly 77,000 parcels of property in the county.
The values are used to determine property taxes. If appraisers determine values are up, then property taxes are boosted as well.
If a tax increase results, it will take effect in 2005, Milliken said.
It's hard to say whether the reappraisal will result in increased values, which are largely dependent on economic conditions, she added.
Last reappraisal: The county's last reappraisal was conducted by Clemingshaw between 1996 and 1998. It resulted in property taxes going up about 18 percent.
The increase sparked taxpayer outrage that many county officials believe led voters to scrap the county's 1 percent sales tax in May 1999.
The two taxes are unrelated, but county officials believe voters took their anger out on the sales tax, which, unlike the property tax, is subject to a popular vote.
The sales tax was restored by voters in November 2000, but only after commissioners promised to reduce property taxes by about $2.5 million annually.
Through the tax committee's monitoring, the auditor's office will keep property owners informed of the reappraisal's progress and will try to handle problems as they arise, Milliken said.
She formed the tax committee in May to ensure she had broad public input on tax issues.
Although the reappraisal will start in January, work primarily will be with tax records. Appraisers probably won't start getting out and examining properties until spring, Milliken said.
The county will pay Clemingshaw about $998,000 to conduct the appraisal. The firm was among three that sought the job. None was from Columbiana County.
Money for the expense will come from a real estate fund that is fueled with property tax revenue.

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