Commissioners begin to hear assessment appeals

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SHAWN GUST/Press Marty Krupitsky, of Coeur d'Alene, states his case before the Kootenai County Commissioners Monday with the hope of a property tax assessment adjustment during a Board of Equalization hearing.

COEUR d'ALENE - So it begins.

Tuesday marked the first day Kootenai County property owners could appeal their property assessments before the county commissioners, acting as the Board of Equalization, a time crunch where the board will consider 111 appeals by July 9.

That number is down from last year, which saw around 350 appeals, and 200 in 2010.

The schedule is set - meaning those who want to plead their case have to be already signed up.

"We're comfortable we can do it," said commissioner Todd Tondee, about completing the workload in time.

Only a small percentage of appellants generally achieve a new assessment value. Last year, for example, the board changed 82 of the 350 or so assessments.

That doesn't stop people from trying.

Marty Krupitsky landed in the minority Tuesday when the BOE lowered his assessed value at Krupitsky's request, the only change the appellate board made on the first day.

"Of course I'm pleased. I got what I asked for," Krupitsky said after the board's 2 to 1 decision in his favor.

The county's assessment is presumed correct in BOE hearings so the burden falls on the appellant to show evidence that the assessment is wrong. Values have to be based on the previous year, so appeals in 2012 are generally from 2011 sales.

Krupitsky's condo unit in Parkside Tower on Front Avenue was assessed at $611,000, only a 1 percent drop from the year before. He argued the value should match sales prices, which were closer to $565,000 based on ads for similar units in the building.

Commissioners Dan Green and Jai Nelson sided in his favor based on looking at his unit specifically, and not taking the average unit price in the building on a whole.

Tondee voted in favor of the assessor's office value.

"The worst thing with these kinds of things is you walk out with nothing," Krupitsky said of approaching the board. "Nothing is better than not trying."

Either the appellant or the assessor's team can appeal the decision to the state Board of Tax Appeals.

Meanwhile, the commissioners had inquired about creating a citizens panel to help hear property valuation appeals. They said they will pursue a change to state law that will clearly allow the use of such an unprecedented hearing panel.

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