New County Assessor is Handling Office

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When taxes go up it’s sure to cause a reaction. And that was certainly the case last summer.

A number of business owners and homeowners were up in arms about an increase in their property tax assessments. The new county assessor told us that many properties had been under-assessed for too long.

Kevin gardner had some big shoes to fill and he was well prepared to take on this new role and address these new assessment values. Already in the month he’s been in office, the county assessor’s office has seen roughly 600 people come in to appeal their new assessments and they’ve still got a long list to go through.

“From my side, I think it’s pretty good. I think people have been receptive to the changes we’ve made,” Vigo County assessor Kevin Gardner said.

So far so good is Gardner’s outlook. He expects the office will see close to 1600 people to appeal their property tax assessments. And he expects close to 50 percent of those appeals will be settled informally.

“We are willing to work with the people, as long as it’s fair for everyone, that’s my goal, that’s what I ran on.”

Finding the middle ground is key. Gardner told us over the summer when new assessments first came out, the sticker shock was in the land assessment, even then he knew some were too high. But all of them had to be raised. In fact, he says it had been about 6 years since the last increase.

“We all believe that, look if the property was worth this, why can’t we sell it for this?” Top Guns owner Steve Ellis said.

Ellis bought the former furniture gallery property along south 7th street in 2015 for 1.5 million dollars.  He’s since added a parking lot and done some major renovation including adding restrooms. When he received his new property tax assessment last summer, it nearly tripled.

“If the properties were worth what they said they were worth, we wouldn’t be getting all these vacancies.”

Ellis has been vocal in his plans to appeal his new assessment, saying he knows it’s increased a bit, but not as much as the new sticker value of over 3.2 million.

He held an informational meeting for the public in July, letting people know what their options are, a meeting Gardner attended. Ellis’ new tax assessment is on hold until his meeting with the assessor’s office, but it’s just another one that gardner’s prepared to face.

Previously Gardner worked on trending and adjustments for the county. He says he hopes to get through the list of appeals before May first.

The state has guidelines and requires land assessments be looked at every four years, but the county has the flexibility to perform assessments in house and adjust accordingly as each situation is independent.

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