Eliminating a stack of over 9,000 assessment appeals would be a tall order
for any county government, but Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder, his staff,
and the Property Tax Board of Appeals accomplished the seemingly
insurmountable task in just a shade under two years.
During a press conference Tuesday at the County Administration Center,
Snyder said 7,038 appeals from 2006-2010 were still pending when he took his
oath of office in January 2011 and grew by 2,000 more later that year.
Snyder estimates that over $15 million, as well as $1 million in interest,
of property tax has been refunded to taxpayer pockets. County Auditor Bob
Wichlinski later on Tuesday said that the net effect of reconciliation on
the appeals for taxing units across the county is $29 million.
He took subsequent steps to revamp the PTABOA board to be quicker and more
efficient by reducing the number of board members from five to three. That
allowed the board to meet more often since a quorum could be established
more easily. Sitting on the PTABOA board currently are its president Joe
Wszolek, vice-president Vicki Urbanik and Nick Sommer.
Wszolek and Sommer are Commissioner appointees; Urbanik, the bipartisan
board’s sole Democrat, is the Council’s appointment.
This year, Sommer replaced PTABOA member Jeff Sederberg, who also
contributed to the backlog reduction.
Snyder also appointed two of his staff to work on the appeal backlog full
time. He also credited Portage Assessor’s office, the county auditor’s
office, the board of Commissioners, and the County Council.
“These groups have worked tirelessly to reach this important milestone,”
said Snyder, adding the task was not an easy one. “I am extremely proud of
my staff and applaud them for accomplishing what some thought was
Residential properties made up roughly 75 percent of the appeals and
commercial properties around 25 percent. While the appeal refunds do impact
the revenue collected by taxing units, there is a benefit in the fact that
the county will not have to pay as much interest with the backlog whittled
down, Snyder said.
With the appeals under control, Wszolek said that taxing units can “finally
begin functioning with a budget they can depend on.”
Assessments for 2012 went out at the end of last month and so far nearly
2,000 appeals have been sought and close to 800 of those have been screened
out, Snyder said. As the state requires, taxpayers have 45 days to file an
appeal with the assessor’s office. The last day to do so is Nov. 13.
Appeals can also be filed online at
which was started last year. Porter County is the first and only county in
the state currently to offer an online appeal option.
“Our office will implement safeguards to ensure that the words ‘backlog’ and
‘appeal ‘are not in the same sentence again,” Snyder said.
PTABOA meetings for 2012 appeals are starting to be scheduled. Chief Deputy
of the Assessor’s office Daniel Timm said they will still be screening the
appeals for any “low-hanging fruit” the staff can clear up first, sparing
taxpayers the process of having to go through the PTABOA.
Snyder said he expects 3,000 appeals to be filed this year, which has been
about the average compared to recent years. Many of those who appeal do so
year after year. And even though about 75 percent of the county’s 80,000
parcels saw lower assessments, appeals still have been steady. This year’s
assessments also reflect reassessment numbers which the state requires ever
Not included in
the reconciliations are any appeals made by the County’s steel mills since
they are now assessed by the state, Snyder said.