Some Cuyahoga County homeowners seeing shocking property value increases

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CLEVELAND - Some Cuyahoga County property owners are receiving shocking new proposed property value notices.

In some cases, values have doubled or tripled, but county officials cautioned that doesn't mean property taxes will increase by the same amount.

State law requires the county to physically view and reappraise properties every six years, and amid a strong housing market the average value increase in Cuyahoga County is nearly 11 percent.

"I was just totally shocked," said Jim Gruzosky. He said his Edgewater Drive home increased in value by 151 percent, jumping from about $277,000 to $697,000 following this year's assessment. He fears a massive tax increase.

"I thought 12, 15 percent. I could handle that. Then, at 151 percent, I determined I really couldn't handle that," he said.

The increases come amid a hot local housing market, particularly on Cleveland's west side. Still, Gruzosky said there is no way his house would sell for its new proposed value.

"If they find me a buyer for $700,000, I'll be out of there tomorrow!" he said.

Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office Director of Operations Lisa Rocco said the county analyzed home sales from January 2016 through May 2017 and grouped homes with similar characteristics, such as size, age, quality and location. According to Rocco, county appraisers then viewed each of the county's nearly half million properties to estimate a value, which the State of Ohio then approved.

"That's what the market is telling us. It's driven by sales. So that is what the sales told us," she said of values that doubled or tripled.

She said taxes will be based on whether a property's change in value is greater than or less than the community's average change in value, which varies depending on municipality.

**More on that, here**

West side communities, including Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village experienced the largest increase in values.

"Just because your percentage of increase was great, that doesn't necessarily mean your taxes are going up by that amount," Rocco said.

Homeowners can dispute findings and even present private appraisals. The Shakarian family, who live on Lake Avenue, plan to do so. They said just a year ago a bank assessed their property value at $245,000 and the new county appraisal puts it at $425,000.
"It's unbelievable," Berj Shakarian said. "They are killing homeowners."

Public meetings are being held next week, and complaints can be filed online with the county.
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