Porter County website gives taxpayers option to appeal online
By Jeff Schultz Post-Tribune correspondent October 4, 2011 12:40PM
Porter County assessor Jon M. Snyder unveils a new website during a press conference in Valparaiso Tuesday Oct. 4, 2011. The site is designed to make it easier for taxpayers to take advantage of services offered by the assessors office, including appealing property tax assessments. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2011 12:53PM
VALPARAISO -- With the advent of assessment notices for 2012 property tax bills hitting the mail this week, Porter County Assessor Jon M. Snyder on Tuesday unveiled his office’s new web portal that can save taxpayers a trip to the county administration building.
At www.portercountyassessor.com, visitors will be able to find copious amounts of taxing information regarding their parcels as well as filling out their “door hanger” form information that lets the office know of any changes to a person’s property.
Most notably though, those who disagree with their assessment figures can start their appeals process through the website without having to contact the office or filing a state appeal form.
Snyder said when he ran for office last year, the voters let it be known they wanted to have an easy way to conduct business online like appeals but he realized the odds for developing a website were not in has favor. Working with fellow department heads County Auditor Bob Wichlinski and County Treasurer Mike Bucko on the Total Quality Management initiative, the dream was realized by meeting with consultants at Golden Technologies, based in Valparaiso, on piecing together a website meeting taxpayer demands.
“Today the taxpayer wins as the county assessor has made it easy to appeal online,” Snyder said. “Some said this couldn’t be done.”
Golden Technologies Accounts Manager John Scott, not to be confused with Snyder’s predecessor, said the site is live but will be functioning fully after Friday when Form 11 notices are sent out. Those who file an appeal will be emailed a tracking number confirming their information is accepted, said chief deputy assessor Daniel Timm.
Under state statute, appeals need to be filed within 45 days the assessment was received or about Nov. 21.
Snyder said he is also expanding his office hours in order to work on appeals. The office will now be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Currently the assessor is facing a bottleneck of about 2,300 appeals, down from 7,000 when Snyder first took office. While the number has whittled down considerably, the number of appeals could spike with the new crop of Form 11s.
When making appeals, Snyder asks taxpayers look at market information to help justify their case instead of simply alleging their assessment is too high. The new website can aid taxpayers by looking at other values in their neighborhoods.
“One thing we have learned is the taxpayer doesn’t know what they need or evidence they need to bring,” he said.
Declaring the site a collaborative effort, Snyder thanked Timm, his Director of Commercial Operations Tim Jorczak and Golden Technologies for their efforts. The county contracted Golden Technologies in August for $15,000 and they will check-in with the county’s IT department on maintaining the site.
Snyder said this is one step closer to e-Government where residents would conduct all their business with county departments by visiting a single web page, a feat which he says is still a long way off.