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Business & Economy

Franklin County auditor educates residents on property reappraisals amid historic value jump

 A man points to a coded map while another man looks on.
Allie Vugrincic
Lance Gates, director of appraisals with the Franklin County Auditor's Office, right, shows Bill Turns of Reynoldsburg a map of property tax rates Thursday evening during a Reappraisal Exhibition at the Reynoldsburg Senior Center. Four more events to educate the public about the reappraisal process are scheduled for the end of July and early August.

Franklin County, like other parts of central Ohio, is expectinghistoric property value increases this year – but the county auditor’s office is working to put residents' concerns about property reappraisals to rest with six reappraisal exhibitions.

“The goal of the exhibitions is for residents to know as much as possible about the reappraisal process,” said Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano. “We want property owners to know they play an important role in working with the office to establish an accurate valuation of their property.”

The second of the six reappraisal exhibitions was held Thursday at the Reynoldsburg Senior Center. The arc of informational tables evoked the image of a high school science fair, but experts from the auditor’s office were there to talk math, at least in terms of property values.

County Director of Appraisal Lance Gates said that the county will see, on average, a 40% bump in values. That’s double 2020’s average increase of about 20%, which was already significant compared to prior years.

“After the recession of ‘08 through ‘11, the recovery of the market started in ‘14 and ‘17, and it hasn't stopped since then,” Gates said.

Nate Shipman, Special Projects Coordinator with the county Auditor’s Office, said the mandatory reappraisal comes amid a “perfect storm of factors.”

“So increased population growth, lack of housing stock, outside investment in the local market, you know, like investors coming in and paying cash for properties – all these things are combining to drive up property values in Franklin County this year,” Shipman said.

Not all areas will be hit the same; factors like gentrification affect home values. Gates pointed to the Franklinton area, where commercial growth, new housing construction and remodeling and rehab are pushing up home values faster than some other Columbus neighborhoods.

“So increased population growth, lack of housing stock, outside investment in the local market, you know, like investors coming in and paying cash for properties – all these things are combining to drive up property values in Franklin County this year."
-Nate Shipman, special projects coordinator with Franklin County Auditor's Office

Reappraisal and taxes

Full reappraisals are done every six years. County auditors also do triennial updates using just sales data.

Gates noted that values increasing "is not all bad." It helps property owners build equity on what is typically their biggest investment. Still, people are still concerned when they see those big jumps.

“The biggest question we tend to get after someone hears that their property value is going up is what does that mean for their tax bill? And the reappraisal isn't meant to change taxes, but it does because of how the system works,” said Bethany Sanders, Director of Policy with the auditor’s office.

She was at the Reynoldsburg reappraisal exhibition to talk about what’s really on everyone’s mind: taxes.

She said the biggest big takeaway for residents is that there is not a one-to-one relationship between taxes and property values.

“There will not be a spike in overall taxes collected or a windfall to local governments,” Sanders said.

Taxes typically go up less than value changes because most levies are designed to collect a set amount of money, Sanders explained. So, increases and decreases have more to do with how one person’s property value changes compared to the rest of the properties in their community.

Most people’s taxes will go up a little with the reappraisal, due to the smaller inside millage, which does increase proportionally to value, she said. But taxes won’t rise 40%.

“(I) learned a little more about taxes. It's like in this country we can't, it seems, we can't learn too much about taxes,” laughed Bill Turns, a Reynoldsburg resident who attended Thursday’s session after going to another town hall with Stinziano.

Turns said at the exhibition that he learned more about the county’s geographic information systems, also known as G.I.S., and more about checking other properties’ values, taxes and tax liabilities.

“I think it's a good thing for people to get out and see this,” he said, adding that he recommends writing down questions ahead of time.

People gather at several information tables set up in an arc inside a large room.
Allie Vugrincic
Franklin County residents talk to experts from the Franklin County Auditor's Office Thursday evening at a Reappraisal Exhibition at the Reynoldsburg Senior Center.

Property owner participation

Susan Drozdowski, Director of Real Estate with the auditor’s office, said property owners also have a part to play in reappraisals.

“So, their homework right now would be to check our website to make sure their characteristics are correct on their property,” she said.

The Franklin County Auditor’s Office uses a computer assisted mass appraisal system that includes cost tables, comparable sales and property characteristics to evaluate more than 450,000 properties in the county.

But appraisers typically don’t get to go inside homes, Drozdowski said. “So, we’re relying on the data that we have,” she said.

If someone ultimately disagrees with the value assigned to their property, that can bere-evaluated in September. Plus, the county has a free mediation program for owners who want to have a conversation about their property values.

“So if you make an adjustment in September, still feel we're off, you get that second bite at the apple,” Drozdowski said.

As for the reappraisal exhibitions, Shipman says the first two were a success. “So, were we originally only going to do three. We're doing six now, so it went really well,” he said.

Stinziano said the office will continue to hold reappraisal exhibitions.

Four more are scheduled:

  • July 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library
  • July 25 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library
  • July 31 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Scioto Southland Community Center
  • Aug. 2 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Parsons branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

Reappraisals will be released on the auditor’s websiteon Aug. 8 and will be mailed to property owners the following week.

Business & Economy Franklin CountyHousingTaxes
Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.