Md. fixes its error that was in homeowner's favor

February 07, 2007|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,Sun reporter

If you got a property reassessment notice last month that you didn't like, consider this: It could be worse. You could have received an even higher re-reassessment.

That's what happened to Paul Matsko and some of his neighbors in Guilford, in North Baltimore. Matsko's first reassessment, which arrived in early to mid-January, was for about $680,000 - a 30 percent increase over the market value set in 2004. The second, which came last week, increased the value to about $835,000.

The difference was the state's valuation of the land, which doubled.

"I don't know how you come up with a redo two weeks later," said Matsko, a software salesman who's lived in the city for about 15 years.

The state says the second reassessment notice wasn't an error - the first one was. Not quite 50 properties in Matsko's part of Guilford had been accidentally assigned land values that were much too low, said Owen C. Charles, Baltimore City supervisor of assessments for the state Department of Assessments and Taxation.

"We had to make the correction," he said.

Bill Stansbury, state supervisor of assessments, says he knows of no other corrections in Maryland for this assessment cycle, in which a third of the state was reassessed.

This isn't a first. Mistakes happen sometimes, Charles said. He said the Guilford problem arose because land in Matsko's neighborhood was assessed using the formula for area rowhomes rather than for single-family detached houses with more property and higher values. The wrong formula produced a land value of $150,000 for Matsko, roughly $70,000 less than what the land was assessed at three years ago.

Matsko, for his part, sounded more befuddled than upset and said he's not sure if he'll appeal. He said no explanation came with the second notice.

"The assessment and taxing on houses has always been rather confusing anyway," he said.

jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

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