If you’re one of the thousands of Jackson County residents who recently received a new property assessment letter that made your heart stop, welcome to the club. We’re still trying to recover our footing after getting hit with a 286% assessment increase on the business property on what the county must think is the lush and beautiful St. John Gardens Boulevard. For the record, that 286% increase pales in comparison to a couple of vacant lots near 42nd street and Manheim Road that kicked out a whopping 1900% increase each. Vacant lots mind you, unimproved vacant lots.
While part of the issue lies with a mediocre school system that apparently has to make up for lost student money to charter schools per DESE and lost TIF money to hot shot downtown 1-2-3 Light developers, the larger problem lies with the consulting firm hired by the county back in the Mike “Skippy” Sanders era to allegedly clean up the appraisal process in Jackson County.
John Q. Ebert & Associates or E&A Consulting is the company hired by Jackson County, to assess real property. According to their web site, the outfit is: “a professional services entity comprised of property tax administration experts focused on proper, accurate, uniform property tax administration via accomplishing and demonstrating property tax equity.
Right. Equity. Really?
The fact this outfit was brought in under the Sanders administration makes it a shady deal from the very start. Sanders as you may remember, is a temporary resident of South Dakota where he’s a ward of the federal prison system.
That aside, the Dog has learned that the hot shot consultants didn’t use any local mapping information, only nationally-based algorithms. Think Zillow for residential properties or CoStar for commercial properties to assess value to real property county-wide. Additionally, we’ve learned that no lease information was used and no COV (Certificate of Value) information was considered in calculating the value of a property. Both of those according to real estate, professionals we spoke with, are vitally important in calculating the accurate value of real property, residential and commercial. This despite the fact the county had access to boxes and boxes of residential rental records to accurately verify value, the information was summarily ignored.
The Dog started to look at some of the other government entities that hired Ebert and his bunch for appraisal assistance and we weren’t disappointed.
Ohio’s Cuyahoga County hired Ebert & Associates and low and behold property owners were hit with staggering re-assessments in 2018. According to an August 18th story on WKYC3, over 13,000 property owners filed appeals with the county after being hit with staggering increases in their property tax. Cuyahoga County actually had to extend the appeal deadline due to the number of appeals filed by property owners.
Another county Ebert & Associates worked in was Nassau County, Long Island NY. According to a Long Island News12 story from December of 2018, thousands of Long Island residents were worried about keeping their homes after the county reassessed their value. Homeowners suffered double digit increases in property taxes. Sound familiar? Coincidence?
Now Ebert and his band of roving robber barons are working for the Jackson County Assessors office and have, at least according to our sources, ran all the good people out of the assessor’s office a while back and have now staffed it up with their own band of merry henchmen. And you thought corruption in Jackson County was a thing of the past.
Here’s the bottom line. The Dog has it on very good authority that the county, or rather the county’s lackey, Ebert & Associates didn’t rely on any micro-local appraisal calculations to arrive at their stratospheric rate hikes passed on to individual taxpayers. Aerial photography coupled with a national algorithm just flat doesn’t come close to rendering a proper value for real property, residential or commercial. The proof of that lies in two vacant lots in the urban core getting whacked with a 1900% tax increase. Given these facts, the Dog would like to know how you hot-shots over at the Legislature sleep at night given you just drove a stake through the heart of every middle class homeowner and small business in the county.
Cue the pitchforks and the torches. This doesn’t end here.