LEON - Some taxpayers in Leon are concerned about recent revaluations that resulted in tax increases some consider to be too high.
An organizational meeting was held by property owners in June to discuss the reassessment. About 60 people came from the town, which has a population of about 1,380.
"This is a big problem to Leon taxpayers," state the minutes from the meeting.
"Leon taxpayers feel this market value that was adjusted is too high and not fair to many of our property owners," the minutes add, stating some market values doubled or tripled, which owners think is "way out of line for our town." It is a municipality made up of 80 percent Amish community members and is in a rural area with limited businesses for a tax base.
Richard C. Moffit Jr., town supervisor, said the last revaluation was done in the mid-1990s. If revaluations are not done more often, he said, the town could be penalized by the state. Besides, he said, when the values are not kept current, some residents are paying more than they should, while others are not paying their fare share.
"We wanted to make it even and fair," he said, adding the new assessments will take effect for school taxes due in September.
The results to be used, he said, show some residents seeing decreases on bills. Others, he said, were not assessed accurately and are seeing increases. Still others, he said, were getting improper exemptions, something which came out during the revaluation process. For instance, Moffit said some residents used net income amounts instead of gross income amounts on some forms due to misunderstanding the form. That change showed they were exempt from some taxes when they were not. Therefore, he said, that was recalculated.
Those who feel assessments are still not accurate, he said, had the opportunity to grieve the assessments. More than 20 property owners did so, Moffit said. He said the grievance board is made up of three town residents who underwent training. Although he said he is unsure of the results, the grievance board may lower the assessments or rule to keep them when owners can then continue grievance processes.
Moffit said he does believe the revaluation was done properly, however. He said most elected town officials do not have the proper training to perform the revaluation, so they hired an independent firm to conduct the work.
"I have to put my faith in that process," he said.
Fred Filock, a town property owner, said he questions how home values were assessed. For instance, he said, the taxable value on his home went up $43,000 and said another appraiser he hired appraised the property at a lesser amount than that for which he is being taxed. Another woman, he said, told him her taxes were going up $2,000 but she remains on a fixed income and is unsure how to pay the bill.
"It's sad. It's a poor, poor community," he said. "It's going to be devastating."
While he plans to file a small claims assessment review, with an arm of state Supreme Court, he is concerned about his community and the Amish who live there. Filock said the Amish do not understand the process. He said the community's members plan to help them.
"We're all family," he said.
Some of that family is expected at the next meeting of the concerned property owners will be held at 7 p.m. July 19 at the Leon Historical Church.