Tax Assessment Appeals Fewer In Carroll Courts

January 23, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

The barrage of property tax appeals that has clogged many of the state's appeals boards apparently hasn't hit Carroll County.

In a year when almost 13,300 people have challenged their 1990 property tax assessments -- halting future appeals in Baltimore and in Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- only 985 Carroll taxpayers have appealed their assessments.

"Traditionally, we never have much of a problem in Carroll," saidLarry White, supervisor of the state's Department of Assessments andTaxation office in Westminster.

Tomorrow is the deadline for filing appeals to 1990 property tax assessments.

But while Carroll homeowners appear to be less angry with their tax assessments, the county's Board of Appeals still may feel the crunch of the record numbers of appeals filed elsewhere in the state.

"While overall we're low in terms of appeals, we may still have a problem," White said. "Technically, the state agency (Maryland Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board) is out of money. We're part of that. Where the money will come from at this point is anyone's guess."

Statewide, the 24 appeals boards face a backlog of 5,800 appeals, said Craig Biggs, the state board's administrator. He has asked the General Assembly for money to continue hearing appeals.

The number of appeals filed for 1990 is up 77 percent over 1989. Biggs estimates that without the $118,000 he is asking for, the appeals boards will go broke before the end of themonth.

More than 16,000 Carroll homes -- all in a region north and west of Westminster -- were given new appraisals last year. The assessments office gives new appraisals to a third of the county every year.

For those northwest Carroll homeowners, last year's assessments were up an average of 35 percent over 1987. Because increases in property taxes are phased in over the three-year assessment period, most homeowners assessed in 1990 face yearly property tax increases ofabout 11.5 percent.

To the owner of a home outside of a municipality assessed at $130,000 in 1987, a 35 percent increase would bump that assessment to $175,500.

Since taxes are based on about 41 percent of a property's assessed value, the county property taxes on that home would total about $1,392 this year.

By 1993, the county tax bill on that home would rise to about $1,685 -- assuming a constant tax rate. Carroll's current tax rate is $2.35 per $100 of assessed valuation, the lowest in the Baltimore region.

At the same time appeals are up elsewhere in Maryland, the number filed here actually is down 13 percent for 1990 from 1989.

White and state officials attribute that to the relatively low rise in assessments, especially when compared to the 45 percent increase in 1989. That increase applied to the 16,000 or so homes in eastern Carroll County.

To appeal an assessment, a homeowner must fill out the form that is sent out with the assessment. The appeal is heard by the Carroll Board of Appeals in the County Office Building on North Center Street.

Should a homeowner's initial appeal be turned down, the property owner then can take the case to the Maryland Tax Court in Baltimore.

From 1986 through last year, the board granted assessment reductions in 81 of the 545 cases that it heard. Many cases are dismissed when an appellant drops the case or doesn't show up.

All mailed appeals must be postmarkedby tomorrow; they also can be filed in person at the Department of Assessments and Taxation Office, 15 E. Main St., Sherwood Square, Westminster until 4:30 p.m. tomorrow.

ASSESSMENT APPEALS RISE

Year.. .. .. .. . Carroll.. .. .. . Maryland

1991.. .. .. .. .. 985.. .. .. .. .. 13,287

1990.. .. .. .. ..1,134.. .. .. .. . 7,500

1989.. .. .. .. .. 690.. .. .. .. . 6,917

1988.. .. .. .. .. 680.. .. .. .. . 6,036

1987.. .. .. .. .. 530.. .. .. .. . 7,258

1986.. .. .. .. .. 790.. .. .. .. . 5,576

1985.. .. .. .. ... 173.. .. .. .. ..5,990

Note: Recordsare calendar years, with a filing deadline of Jan. 1, so the 1991 figure represents appeals from 1990, and so on.

Source: State Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board

SOURCE: CARROLL COUNTY SUN GRAPHIC

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