Some facts about the rules and methods concerning the once-every-six-years countywide re-valuation of real estate, for which results are being announced:
Mahoning County has about 166,000 parcels of real estate, with more than 51,000
residential parcels located in Youngstown.
Any changes in real-estate taxes based on the reappraisal will be reflected beginning with the first half tax bills to be sent out in February 2012.
Mahoning County’s 2 1/2-year reappraisal process was
performed by the Niles-based Integrity Appraisal Services Inc. at a cost of $2,152,000.
State law and the courts have determined that fair-market value should be the gauge for setting property values.
Fair-market value is the most likely price a property would sell for in an open market, where neither the buyer, nor the seller, is under duress.
Taxpayers who disagree with conclusions from the reassessment concerning their properties may appeal to the county’s Board of Revision between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2012.
Appeal forms are available from the county auditor’s office.
Source: Mahoning County Auditor’s Office
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
The news from the revaluation of Mahoning County real estate will be heartbreaking for many homeowners, whose home is not only a piece of the American dream but their most valuable asset.
The total market value of residential real estate declined by 7.4 percent countywide since the last comprehensive re-valuation six years ago.
The tentative total market value of all real estate countywide fell 4.2 percent from $13,060,739,117 to $12,513,659,567 after factoring in agricultural properties, which rose by 3.5 percent; commercial, up by two-tenths of 1 percent; and industrial, up 1.8 percent.
“Blame that on the economic condition. Blame that on the layoffs, the debt that folks got themselves in. ... All of those considerations had an impact on why market values have plummeted” in the residential sector, said Michael V. Sciortino, county auditor.
The biggest residential value losers were the Youngstown and Campbell school districts at 19.3 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.
Multiple school districts, including the suburban ones immediately surrounding Youngstown, suffered major losses in residential value.
Some 68 percent of real estate taxes go to the school districts, according to Daniel R. Yemma, county treasurer.
Sciortino will be revealing tentative new values for each of 166,000 real estate parcels countywide on Mahoning County’s website on Monday.
On that day, a telephone information line will be activated, and taxpayers may begin visiting the reappraisal information center in the Oakhill Renaissance Place auditorium for individual consultations with the appraisers who established their tentative new values and with Sciortino’s staff.
However, Sciortino and Yemma say they and their staffs cannot calculate now the new real-estate tax amounts that will be based on the new values, effective with next year’s first half tax collections.
“There’s too much room for error,” Yemma said. “This percentage increase or decrease in valuation is not directly proportional to the percentage increase or decrease in taxes,” Yemma explained.
Cheri Donofrio, Sciortino’s director of taxation, noted that Nov. 8 election results concerning levies could influence taxes in some jurisdictions.
Yemma noted that the state will set the new tax rates based on both voted and non-voted millage in each community, and, on that basis, the county auditor’s office will calculate the annual tax for each parcel in January.
Besides Youngstown and Campbell, the residential value losers among school districts included: Sebring, 10.3 percent; Boardman, 10.1 percent; Struthers, 7.4 percent; Austintown, 6.9 percent; West Branch, 6.6 percent; Poland, 4.4 percent; Canfield, 3.6 percent; Western Reserve, 2.9 percent; and South Range, 1.1 percent.
“They don’t surprise me,” Tom Robey, Campbell schools superintendent, said of the auditor’s numbers for his school district.
“We knew they were going to drop,” he said of real estate values in his district. However, he said the drop, which he attributed to the poor economy and lack of employment opportunities, was greater than he expected.
The direct financial consequences of the value loss for his school district, which gets more than 80 percent of its funding from the state, will not be significant, he said.
That’s because the state will compensate for local funding losses in the Campbell schools because Campbell is a relatively poor district in economic terms, Robey said.
The school districts that gained residential value included: Jackson-Milton, 3.4 percent; Lowellville, 1.2 percent; and Springfield, 0.6 percent.
In a recent interview,
auditor’s office personnel and the appraisers who worked with them referred to the valuation changes as market-driven, and they declined to speculate on the reasons for residential value losses in specific areas.
“There’s a lot of different factors that go into why a market value may plummet — economic conditions, nationally, statewide and locally. We’re in a recession, and remember that market values follow what the market, itself, is doing,” Sciortino explained.
“Everything is based on actual sales” in the reappraisal, said Richard Barrett, an appraiser for Integrity Appraisal Services Inc.
“We really look at the numbers, as opposed to the reasons. ...When you look at a number like a 19 percent decline, it’s just indicating that the sales that we were able to look at during 2008, ‘09 and ‘10 were approximately 19 percent less than the sales we were looking at back in 2002, 2003 and 2004,” when the information for the 2005 re-valuation was generated, Barrett explained.
The countywide tentative figures now being released contrast sharply with the last mass appraisal, which occurred before the recession and whose results were reported in 2005. Six years ago, residential market values were reported up 12.81 percent; agricultural was up 27.05 percent; commercial was up 9.96 percent and industrial was up 7.19 percent compared to six years earlier.
Barrett said his company’s analysis was made more difficult in the recent reappraisal by a low sales volume and by the shortage of fair market value sales after the appraisers excluded auctions, sheriff’s sales and other non-standard sales from their calculations.
Although the non-standard sales are excluded from the fair market value calculations, they have an indirect depressing effect on the fair market value, he said.
“If you were trying to sell your house on your street, and there’s a short sale up the street from you and a couple of foreclosures down the street, you’re not going to be able to get the same amount of money for your house as you otherwise would,” he explained.
Joan Zarlenga, president of the Youngstown-Columbiana Association of Realtors, said the new tentative values surprise her because sales by association members in January through August of this year exceeded those of the same period last year.
However, she added: “I can’t say we’re doing as well as we did 10 years ago. ... Ten years ago, if you were in real estate, you were doing very well.” The association has nearly 600 members in Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
“It’s a great time to buy a house. Interest rates are low. There are homes to chose from. ... The inventory is out there if somebody is interested,” said Zarlenga, who is a real-estate agent at Burgan Real Estate in Boardman.
Real-estate owners who see a decline in their values may not see a corresponwding decline in their property taxes, Yemma said.
That’s because voted real-estate tax levies are designed to generate a constant amount of annual revenue over their lives regardless of increases or decreases in property values, he explained.
However, the non-voted real estate tax millage is subject to decline if the total property valuation drops, he said. A decline there results in reduced revenues to school districts, cities, villages, townships, the county, public libraries, the Western Reserve Transit Authority and Mill Creek MetroParks, he said.
Any redistribution of the real estate tax burden that occurs following the re-valuation will occur within each community and not across community lines, Sciortino said.
Sciortino and Yemma said, for example, that a homeowner on Youngstown’s West Side could have suffered a value loss, but the real estate tax on that home could rise because the home is valued higher than the citywide average.
As for the 3.5 percent increase in the countywide agricultural value, Robert Rimedio, the county’s chief appraiser, said rising farm commodity prices could have contributed to that increase in farm land value.
“I’m not comfortable yet with the percentages (of increase) on the commercial and industrial side” because the expiration of a tax abatement may be mistakenly interpreted as a property value increase due to the manner in which the numbers are compiled, Barrett said.
Despite Barrett’s caveats, Sciortino said he’s confident in the overall results of the re-appraisal.
“We went above and beyond, making certain, exhausting every possible avenue of research and data, to make certain that these numbers are the most reflective of the true market value,” Sciortino said.
“These numbers have been approved tentatively by the Tax Commissioner of the State of Ohio,” he added.
Sciortino also said he wanted the Niles-based Integrity to perform the mass appraisal because its appraisers reside here and can empathize with local taxpayers suffering value losses. “They pay taxes here, and they’ll be facing their neighbors and justifying these values,” Sciortino said.
“We’re all in the same boat,” Barrett said, noting that most auditor’s office personnel and Integrity appraisers live in Mahoning County.
reappraisal information center
Here are some facts about the Mahoning County reappraisal information center, which will begin functioning Monday:
Face-to-face consultations between real-estate owners and appraisers and members of the county auditor’s staff will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sept, 19, 21,23, 28 and 30 and Oct. 3,5 and 7 in the first floor auditorium at
Oakhill Renaissance Place, 345 Oak Hill Ave., Entrance A.
At these consultations, appraisers can explain to real estate owners how they arrived at the tentative new value for their properties.
The consultation telephone line, (330) 740-7909, will be answered during the same hours.
Residential and agricultural landowners need no appointments for face-to-face consultations at Oakhill, but commercial and industrial property owners are asked to call the above number to schedule an appointment with a commercial appraiser.
Beginning Monday, real estate owners will be able to see the old and tentative new property values for their parcels on the county’s website at www.mahoningcountyoh.gov. Parcels can be looked up by the owner’s name, parcel identification number or street address.
The consultations will provide taxpayers with an opportunity to call attention to any appraisal errors, such as failure to
account for a new addition to a house that may affect the value of the house.
Due to the high cost of mailings, the auditor’s office won’t mail notices of new tentative values to owners of all 166,000 land parcels in Mahoning County.
Nov. 1 is the county auditor’s deadline to submit values to the state for final approval by the end of the year.
Out of 166,000 parcels in the county, 135,000 are considered residential, and 90,000 of those are improved with a house or garage.
About 64 percent of the county’s total real-estate value is in the residential category.
Source: Mahoning County Auditor’s Office