Battle Brewing Over Property Tax Appraisals In Sumner County

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Battle Brewing Over Property Tax Appraisals In Sumner County

CREATED Jul 2, 2014
by Mark Bellinger

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - No one wants their taxes to go up, but even more than that, you certainly don't want the value of your house going down.

That's what may be happening in Sumner County, where a battle is brewing over property appraisals. In fact, it's gotten so bad the county attorney has asked the state to step in and help. The Sumner County Assessor's Office has taken a lot of fire.

Some homeowners have received as many as three tax assessments this year, so they don't trust the numbers. In one case, a woman's property initially appraised for almost $135,800.

Then, about a month later she received a second appraisal for nearly $211,900.

Sumner County Board of Education Chairman Don Long is one of many people calling for a review of the reappraisal process.

"When you have that much going on it's just, human nature is, which one is right,” said Long.

Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt said there's even a bigger problem. The result of the reappraisal is an overall depreciation of property for the whole county.

"I do not, and I'll say it again, think that's an accurate reflection of where we are today,” said Holt.

Holt, with the backing of many city and county leaders, has asked the state to step in and investigate the assessor's office.

The county attorney sent a letter to the Tennessee State Board of Equalization. It officially asks for a re-examination of the entire Sumner County appraisal process for this year and a determination of whether a valid assessment was undertaken.

Sumner County Property Assessor John Isbell has been in office for the last 10 years.

Isbell said county, city and school officials were upset because the lower overall county assessment requires a six cent increase in the county property tax rate.

"The bottom line is they wanted the certified rate to come in lower so that they could set the certified rate at the current rate and realize an increase in tax revenues. Unfortunately, the market did not dictate that,” he said.

Isbell explained that one of the reasons people are seeing multiple assessments is that when someone appeals their original assessment and the county determines there was a problem they go in and re-assess the entire neighborhood.

"Instead of just fixing that one person and creating an inequity, we'll fix all of it and send them all a notice and if they don't like that they have the opportunity to appeal their value,” he said.

Isbell said it's the county's right to ask for a review of the process and he welcomes it.

Sumner County is on a five year reappraisal plan. The last assessment was 2009, which was a year after the start of the recession.

Holt and others would argue property values as a whole for the county should have gone up.

Sumner County commissioners passed a budget this year without the certified tax rate. That means school systems and cities aren't sure how much revenue there will be when they put budgets together later this year.

Long said the formula used to distribute state money for schools cut one million dollars from Sumner County this year.

Email: mbellinger@newschannel5.com