Unclear if lower Porter County property assessments will lead to lower taxes
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent October 4, 2012 2:17PM
Updated: November 7, 2012 6:05AM
VALPARAISO — If the assessed value of your property dropped dramatically, you’re not alone.
Porter County residents began receiving their assessment notices this week and for the most part, Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder said those assessments dropped considerably, in part because of a weak housing market.
What impact that will have on taxes won’t be known until February, Auditor Bob Wichlinski said, because schools, municipalities and other taxing entities, like the county library system, are still finalizing their budgets.
Tax rates, he said, are the point where assessed valuations and budgets meet.
“It would be irresponsible for us as elected officials to look at the assessed valuation and say, this is what your taxes will be,” Wichlinski said.
With the exception of the Lincolnway commercial corridor through downtown Valparaiso and a handful of other places in the county, most assessments went down, Snyder said
This also was a reassessment year — done every five years — and the housing market has dropped off. During the last reassessment, “it was a hot market, so everybody got extremely high assessments,” Snyder said.
He saw the drop coming — the reassessment was complete in March — and said others should have seen it coming, too, adding it could have been a lot worse.
Some property owners also saw influences from previous years, such as farmland and wetland classifications, removed from their property, causing a shift in property values. Those were removed because Snyder’s office didn’t have documentation supporting that’s how the land was being used.
“We cleaned up a lot of stuff, and that’s painful,” Snyder said, adding his office has been getting a lot of calls about the new assessed valuations.
The bright spot is, property values could go back up in next year’s assessment because the real estate market is starting to get stronger, Snyder said.
In the coming weeks, Wichlinski said he, Snyder and Treasurer Mike Bucko will again be doing their “Let’s Talk Taxes” presentations throughout the county, with at least five town hall meetings on the components of tax bills.