City tax exemptions requests remain flat

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz City Assessor Jeff Shea reviews some tax information before the board of appeals met Thursday. The board has been meeting this week to hear protests on assessment values on property as well as hear poverty and disabled exemption requests. Shea said the number of people seeking a tax break is in line with the last several years.

ALPENA — The City of Alpena Board of Appeals has been meeting this week to consider property tax challenges and waivers from property owners. According to Equalization Director Jeff Shea, approximately the same number of residents made claims as the last several years.

Shea said the three primary things the board does is considers challenges made to a property’s equalized value as well rule on poverty and disabled veteran exemptions. Shea and three council members sit on the board and once all of the claims have been heard, they begin to deliberate on whether to approve the requests and challenges.

Shea said as of Thursday morning this year is similar in the number of people coming before the board. He said there have been only eight assessment protests, 12 disabled veterans exemptions and 95 poverty exemption requests. Shea said because the board was scheduled to meet Thursday evening there could be more, but he suspected there would be very few.

“We may hear another handful of poverty exemptions and maybe another protest or two,” he said. “So far the numbers are very comparable to the last few years.”

Shea said having poverty and disabled veterans exemptions are good because there are many who simply struggle to make ends meet and it helps them to reduce the risk of losing their home because they can’t afford to pay their property tax.

The amount of revenue lost from the poverty exemption will be in the neighborhood of about $35,000. Shea said from the assessment protests, the loss is minimal and often the assessment adjustment isn’t enough to change the taxable amount.

“It is actually really minor what we give away at the board of review,” he said.

Before making a decision Shea said the board reviews similar properties and what they sold for and then makes a decision based on the information the equalization office has on record.

Shea said when the board votes against a protest, the property owner has a right to a hearing before the Michigan Tax Tribunal. He said the city will then make its case for how the property is assessed and the owner will do the same. After hearing both sides the tribunal judge will rule on it after consideration.

Shea said this week was the only week the city will hear protests on property assessment, but it does meet in July and December to address any clerical errors that may have been made on the tax bills.

“If there is a mistake on the tax bill the board is available to fit it,” he said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.