Homeowners in the Southwest portion of Columbus got a bit of good news at the Sept. 17 Southwest Area Commission (SWAC) monthly meeting.
Laurie Ludlum, deputy auditor and supervisor of appraisal for the Franklin County Auditor’s office said County Auditor Joe Testa made the decision to keep the property valuations for area homes at the current values.
“There will be no property tax increase for the next three years unless you vote one for yourselves,” said Ludlum.
Ludlum said Testa made the decision based on 2005 home valuations, which still show the fair market value of homes unchanged, and in some cases a little higher.
“You do need to understand, we’re maintaining, we’re okay. We’re not the east or west coast where people lost a significant amount of value in their homes. Your property, your primary investment, is still valuable to you,” said Ludlum.
Ludlum admits that the fair market value prices for homes may have declined since 2007 sale prices showed a decline.
He added that if people feel their homes are overvalued, there are a few informal review sessions going on around the city for people who want to talk to an auditor to report any changes or discrepancies in their property tax, but time is running out. The last session takes place Wednesday, Sept. 24.
“Look at the mailer we sent you in August. If you don’t agree with the value, if you don’t think it would sell for that much, come in. Talk to us. We’ll look at it. I guarantee an analysis of every property that’s brought to our attention. That doesn’t mean it’ll go down, but I guarantee you we will look at it to see if it should,” said Ludlum.
Ludlum said it is possible for homeowner’s to contest the value of their homes using more recent data.
“The 2005 value is where you are right now, and the value you’re trying to prove is the value as of Jan. 1, 2008. so anything’s fair game and if it’s a condition issue, take pictures, we love pictures. If you had a recent appraisal done, bring a copy of that,” said Ludlum.
Ludlum also said if homeowners have experienced damage to their homes that is significant enough to affect the value of their home, they should also contact the auditor’s office.
“This kind of damage would have to really impact the value of your home. Anything you would contact your insurance agent about, that’s what we want to see,” said Ludlum.
Ludlum said homeowners with this kind of damage would need to go to the auditor’s website at www.franklincountyauditor.com or call 462-HOME to get a destroyed property form and the auditor’s office will mail it to whomever requests it.
“Since this is a third quarter adjustment, it’s due Dec. 31. Fill it out, get it back to us and we will credit you. If we already calculated your tax, we’ll give you the credit on the second half (of the year). If you haven’t done your taxes yet, we’ll get the value adjusted so the credit will be there for the first half,” said Ludlum.
There are other reasons to visit the Web site too, according to Ludlum. The auditor’s Web site not only has a tax estimator for taxpayers, but if there is a levy proposed in the area, it can give you an idea of what that increase will do to your property taxes.
“It will help if there’s a levy proposed on the November ballot. Access your property and it’ll put it right in the estimator and see what that levy will do to you, so you can plan for it,” said Ludlum.
Land Use Plan
In other commission news, Benjamin Weiner, city planner with Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department, said results for the Southwest Land Use Plan are in and are scheduled for presentation at a public forum on Sept. 30 at Franklin Woods Intermediate School at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s still a bit more general format but there’s specific language and specific recommendations of what the land is going to be used for in the future,” said Weiner.
Weiner said the map is not about telling city planners what they can and cannot do but acts as a guideline to what the community wants, so city leaders will look to this map as a significant reference.
“They’re going to use that map to evaluate any proposed rezoning. So it is a really important piece for the community, for what do we want to see a year, five years, 10 years down the road,” said Weiner.
Ralph Horn, Southwest Area Commission chair, announced election results at the meeting. Jennifer Miller and Roy Bertossi are keeping their seats as commissioners and a new face, Stefanie Coe is added to the commission for three-year terms each. Stefanie Coe volunteered to act as commission secretary and liaison on the Cooper Stadium Noise Committee. Ralph Horn will continue to act as chair and Roy Bertossi was elected as commission fiscal officer.