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Assessment appeals window opens

Owners have 30 days to challenge property values starting today

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – The 30-day clock to challenge DeKalb County property assessments starts today for most property owners.

Assessed values, which are used to calculate individual property tax bills, are published in today’s Daily Chronicle for 17 of the county’s 19 townships; Sycamore and Sandwich assessments were published in September. Property owners have 30 days from the publication date to appeal the assessed property value if they think it is unfair.

DeKalb County’s chief assessor, Robin Brunschon, said that the assessments published are those that have changed.

“There are a lot of reasons for a change in assessment,” Brunschon said. “Maybe a vacant lot now has a building on it, maybe a large lot has been split into two, maybe their assessor has reviewed an area.”

To determine if their assessment is accurate, Brunschon urged property owners to contact their township assessor first. The assessor will explain how he or she arrived at the assessment, and can show property owners similar properties in their neighborhood.

“Your assessor’s name will be listed in the paper and they are on the county website,” Brunschon said. “Property owners can always come in or call us. If you’ve tried to contact your assessor and can’t reach them, call us and we’ll help you.”

She also recommended that property owners look over their property record cards in her office.

“They should be educated on what they are being assessed for,” Brunschon said.

When calling, Kevin Schnetzler said the property owner should have his or her assessment handy. Schnetzler is the assessor for several townships – Sycamore, South Grove, Mayfield, Malta and Milan.

He said if property owners have recently had their property appraised, or if they can find three similar homes with lower assessed values, he can change the assessment without the formal appeal process.

Although the appeal process may seem overwhelming, Brunschon said her office is willing to help anyone who needs guidance.

“We’ve tried to put as much out on the website as possible to help residents. They can find the appeal packets and the board of review rules telling them what to do and how to do it. That’s very important,” Brunschon said.

Brunschon said DeKalb County rarely had more than 100 appeals filed annually until 2011, when a record 461 appeals were filed. In 2012, that number dropped to 301. She expects fewer appeals this year.

“Most property owners will see a drop due to the equalization factor,” Brunschon said.

Schnetzler agreed.

“A lot of assessments have gone down quite a bit,” he said. “It’s hard to say if people will challenge their assessments. Some will feel they are overassessed.

“The market is all over the place right now and every homeowner has the right to question their assessed value.”

Ron Adrian, assessor for Victor and Somonauk townships, said assessors have responded to the recent surge in assessment appeals.

“I think we’ve all had to dig in a little deeper and see where we can lower some of the assessments,” Adrian said. “We try to be fair to entire neighborhoods.”

What’s next

If you think your property’s assessed value is too high:

• Contact your local township assessor. If he or she declines to change the assessment, an appeal is possible.

• Appeal forms and board of review rules are online at DeKalbCounty.org/Assessor/index or visit the assessment office at 110 E. Sycamore St., Sycamore, or call 815-895-7120.

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