Tempers flare as residents gather to protest Cuyahoga County property value assessments

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio -- Tempers flared Tuesday night as residents gathered to protest the latest Cuyahoga County property value assessments. They fear that higher property values will mean higher taxes, and they asked county leaders to explain what’s happening.

"If one home in a neighborhood is being raised 35 percent, why is a home five feet across the street is being raised one percent? Something's wrong with the formula," said one county resident.

"Don't tell me that what you do does not impact what the taxes end up being," said another resident, followed by applause.

Homeowners, mostly from Cleveland's Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods, packed a room at Franklin Circle Christian Church to vent about steep increases in their property values.

"We're here to listen to anybody who has a complaint about their value. We encourage them to contact us because we want to get it right. If there's an adjustment that needs to be made, we're gonna make it," said Cuyahoga County fiscal officer Dennis Kennedy.

The meeting was called after several residents contacted former congresswoman and long- time Ohio City resident Mary Rose Oakar.

"One of the misconceptions is those were property tax notices, they were not; they were valuations of property," Kennedy told the crowd.

"My house is identical, identical to a house two doors away from me," explained a resident.

Many residents who attended the meeting claimed their property was valued much too high, fearing much higher taxes and some say their assessment doesn't match similar homes in their neighborhood.

"His house went from 45,300 to 71,900. My house went from 38,600 to 107,700 (moans)...that's a 200-percent increase," she continued to explain.

"I understand your comment. I cannot explain today, tonight. (What are you doing here? if you can't explain it, get out of here)," said county director of appraisals Dan Harbaugh.

County leaders encourage residents to request a reappraisal if they have concerns. They say some neighborhoods in Cleveland saw huge increases in value.

"Tremont, Ohio City, Detroit Shoreway, over on the east side, University Circle, Little Italy, they are very hot real estate markets," Harbaugh said.

The deadline to informally dispute property values is August 31. County officials say so far this year, they have received 12,000 informal complaints about property assessments, and they have reviewed about a thousand.

The last time Cuyahoga County did the state-required assessment six years ago, there were 37,000 complaints.

More stories on this, here.

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