Decline in real-estate valuation expected

By Peter H. Milliken


Mahoning County taxpayers will likely see a decline in overall countywide real-estate valuation when re-evaluation results are released next month, the county auditor and treasurer say.

The new values, calculated every six years, will first be reflected in first-half real-estate tax bills next year.

As to whether taxpayers should expect values of specific properties to rise or fall, “It depends where their properties are,” said Auditor Michael V. Sciortino.

He declined to be specific about which communities would see declines and which would see increases.

“I think we’re expecting a decline,” in overall countywide valuation, “based upon what’s going on elsewhere,” said Treasurer Daniel R. Yemma.

The total appraised taxable value of all of the county’s real estate is now $4,131,667,780, according to Anthony Magnetta, Sciortino’s budget analyst.

Sciortino said specific new values for each of the county’s 166,000 land parcels will be released publicly on the county auditor’s website Sept. 12, and a special property-value telephone inquiry line will be activated then by his office.

Unlike Summit County, which also is releasing new valuations this year, Sciortino said Mahoning County likely can’t afford to mail notices to each property owner concerning the change in his or her valuation.

Sciortino said representatives of his office will meet with individual taxpayers beginning Sept. 12 at Oakhill Renaissance Place on a schedule to be announced later to discuss their individual value changes.

The county auditor’s office will release specific values after the state finishes reviewing results of the once every six years reappraisal of Mahoning County properties, Sciortino said.

“It’s been a 21/2-year process,” of reappraisal, he said, noting that the last mass reappraisal was done in 2005. “It’s been a turbulent property market.”

Next month’s release of the new values will follow Summit County’s announcement that its residential and agricultural property values dropped an average of 7.9 percent for the largest decline in that county’s history.

That county, whose county seat is Akron, also reported a 10.8 percent loss in its commercial and industrial real-estate values.

Yemma said property owners who see a decline in their values may not see a corresponding decline in their property taxes.

“If the value goes down, the drop in taxes may not be proportional to the drop in value,” he said.

That’s because voted real-estate tax levies are designed to generate a constant amount of annual revenue over their life regardless of increases or decreases in property values, he explained.

On the other hand, he said, the nonvoted “inside” real-estate tax millage is subject to decline if the total property valuation drops, and a decline there would reduce revenues to school districts, cities, villages, townships, the county, public libraries, the Western Reserve Transit Authority and Mill Creek MetroParks.

Some 68 percent of real- estate taxes go to public schools, Yemma said.

“If Mahoning County suffers an overall 8 percent decline in value as Summit County, we would be billing somewhat less,” in real-estate taxes, Yemma said. However, he said he could not be more specific on how much less.

In this year’s second-half real-estate tax collection, which closed Aug. 12, the county billed about $115 million and has recorded about $85 million in collections to date, Yemma said.

The year’s real-estate taxes are billed in two equal installments, due in March and August.

Some property owners, such as those on Youngstown’s West Side, could find their property values fell, yet their real-estate taxes will rise, because they own homes that are valued higher than the average for homes in the community in which they reside, he said.

The last time the county’s appraisers were in the field was in 2003, 2004 and 2005, before the 2007 pre-recession peak in property values, he said.

The current reappraisal is based on field work in 2009, 2010 and early this year, following the beginning of the recession in 2008, Yemma noted.

Because average real-estate values were never as high here as in Summit County, the percentage decline here should be somewhat smaller, he said.

However, he said: “It would be unreasonable to expect that we’d see something very much different” from Summit County’s experience.

“We’ve never really climbed too high, so we never really have that far to fall,” in real-estate values, he added.

Those who disagree with their new property values may appeal to the county’s Board of Revision between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2012.

Appeal forms will be available in the county auditor’s office.

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