Residents could be eligible for small refunds on overcharges from including rights-of-way in taxable values

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 1:50 pm on Thursday, October 06, 2011

EUREKA TOWNSHIP — Several Eureka Township property owners could be eligible for small property tax refunds this year.
Some properties were assessed with a public right-of-way included in their value, said Eureka Township Assessor Linda Miller. However, state law does not allow rights-of-way to be included in the taxable value.
Property owners who paid taxes this year based on a value that includes a right-of-way may receive a small refund. Miller said the refunds are less than $5 for most, but some are nearly $100.
“No one would get more than $100,” she said.
Property owners likely have been assessed for the rights-of-way on their tax bills “practically forever” depending on who the assessor was over time, Miller said. However, refunds will only be issued for the current tax year and not for any earlier years.
Miller has reviewed all properties to make sure they are assessed properly with all public rights-of-way excluded for the coming year.
“I took care of (the problem) for the next year,” Miller said.
Harry German, a township resident, said he was assessed for a public right-of-way during his assessment, so he went to the township hall to ask for a correction.
In February, German said he presented his problem to the board and was told they would look into it. He later received a letter from the township and a refund within a month after officials spoke with legal counsel.
However, German is not happy with how the refund was issued.
He had to go to the Board of Review and have the refund approved before he received it. German believes the Board of Review should approve the refunds automatically for everyone who deserves it, rather than requiring every individual property owner to plead their case.
But Miller said it would not be worth the time to calculate refunds that way given the small amounts of money most people would receive.
“That is a lot of work for a little gain,” Miller said. “There would be hundreds — literally hundreds — who would be refunded. But there would also be hundreds who would be billed more.”
Miller said she has done some door-to-door assessments and found that people have made improvements to their property that the township was unaware of, such as finishing a basement for which they were not assessed.
She said if she were to give the money back to those people, they would have to pay it back for items of which the township is unaware.

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