I-TEAM puts Cuyahoga County leader on the spot over taxes

CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-Team tracked down the top man in Cuyahoga County government, putting him on the spot for his first public comments about an uproar over property taxes.

We went up to County Executive Armond Budish after a public event, asking him what he’d say to taxpayers furious over what they see as uneven and unfair changes affecting their tax bills.

Budish said, "Our goal is to be even and fair."

Yet, thousands upon thousands of homeowners have seen massive changes in property values that could lead to spikes in tax bills. And, many homeowners have complained the changes are very uneven after recent tax re-appraisals.

Activists have found similar properties in the same neighborhood are facing wildly different changes in property values.

Budish responded, "These appraisers go out and look at every home. People can come in and tell us why it’s not accurate. And we're very open to making changes, if we're not right."

Budish says he is trusting appraisers hired by the county are doing accurate work. And he added, don’t blame him.

He said, “You don't want me or the politicians involved in the appraisals. So, I had nothing to do with the appraisals.”

Some of you have wondered if the  county is just trying to raise property taxes to suddenly haul in a lot more money.

The county executive says, no. He points out, the county doesn't keep all property tax dollars. That money gets split up between the county and schools and your town governments, too.

Meantime, we also asked Budish why we haven’t seen him out facing taxpayers directly.

For example, some neighborhood groups have organized big meetings with county officials to explain the tax changes.

Budish answered, "I'm not the expert. At those meetings, we want people to get the information that they need. So, if we're wrong, we'll fix it.”

At least 5,000 property owners have filed informal challenges. The deadline for that is Friday. But formal appeals can be filed between January and March.

Continuing coverage, here.