Reported By Joseph Pleasant, Reporter - bio | email
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -
Rutherford County homeowners could see a drop in their property tax bill when they get their assessments this fall.
The reason may leave some angry, though, because an unknown number of homes were wrongly appraised as "ranch-style" when the houses are actually one-and-a-half or two-story homes.
Ranch-style homes are appraised at a higher value because they occupy more land and cost more to build than a similarly sized, two-story houses.
Property assessor Rob Mitchell told Nashville's News 2 he knew of the issue prior to taking office as property assessor from his predecessor, Bill Boner.
"It inflates the price by 10 to 15% on average," he said. "Some homes may have been over assessed by 10% to 15%, meaning homeowners were overcharged for their property taxes."
Appraisers are now checking homes listed as ranch-style to make sure they weren't misidentified.
"If they found a one-and-a-half story house, they were instructed to change it [by the previous administration] from a one-and-a-half story home to a one story home," Mitchell said. "By making that one change, you boosted the expense on the house, which increased the appraisal value."
It is unclear how many homes will be impacted by the reassessments.
Mitchell said he is also unsure how much revenue was collected as a result of the appraisal errors.
Homeowner Russell Stephens was surprised to hear about the error, but said it explained why he and other homeowners paid a higher property tax when the market was in decline.
"I feel they should do a better job than what they are doing," he said. "They want to appraise this property as if the land went up, but it has not gone up in my opinion."
Stephens' Rutherford County home is a one-and-a-half story home that could have been appraised incorrectly.
He has disputed his property assessments in the past.
"They have come over and they have listened," he said. "They may take it down a small percentage, then the next year or the year after, it would go back up."
He continued, "Because then they would say that the assessed value for the area had raised enough to compensate for the increase."
Mitchell said concerned homeowners should call his office to check their appraisal status.
By Monday afternoon, the office had received several calls.
"I didn't create [the problem]," he said. "I am just here to bring equity out to the tax payers."
He said the error can be easily fixed in the computer system before the final tax bills are mailed to homeowners in October.