The Stark County Auditor's office says it has informed the owners of about 4,500 properties the result of the informal appeal of new valuations of their property issued this summer.

CANTON The Stark County Auditor's office reduced 2018 property values for more than 47 percent of properties whose owners filed informal appeals by September.

Jason Frost, the auditor's chief deputy of real estate, said his office last month notified the owners of 4,511 properties the results of their informal appeals. Most people were informed by email in the middle of November. About 630 were mailed notices by Nov. 21.

The owners of 975 properties or 21.6 percent appeals got the lower valuations they requested, Frost said. His office lowered valuations for owners of 1,157 parcels or 25.6 percent of the filed appeals, but not as much as they asked for.

"We didn't go all the way they wanted," said Frost. But often, "they wanted it lowered but they didn't know how much. ... In the end, they might actually be fine with it."

For appeals of the valuations of 2,256 parcels or half the appeals, Frost's office did not agree the 2018 valuation should be changed, he said, due to the property owners providing insufficient evidence.

"They put a number on it, but it wasn't a number that wasn't substantiated by any piece of evidence," said Frost, who added the sales data didn't back many people's cases. He said people would say, "'I don't have evidence. I just feel that way.'"

For appeals on 123 parcels, or 2.7 percent of appeals, the Auditor's office increased valuations on discovering inaccuracies in the property record. Frost said in some cases, some property owners seeking to sell their homes or get a refinancing approved wanted higher valuations.

Frost said his staff, about 21 Auditor's employees, spent much of September, October and November reviewing the evidence submitted by property owners. In some cases, auditor's staff visited properties at the owners' invitation to verify changes.

Many of the changes to properties were in inside buildings that normally couldn't be seen on field visits that take place every six years such as the removal of a finished basement or changes that took place after the last visit like the elimination of a garage.

By law, the Auditor's office every three years has to revise property valuations that are the basis of calculating how much the property owners owe in taxes the following calendar year. Frost's staff bases the revisions largely on sale prices of similar homes in the area around the property, changes to the property and inspections of the exterior of the home every six years.

Frost's office mailed notices to property owners in July with their new unofficial appraisals. In many cases, the valuations were significant increases due to jumps in housing prices. The notices sparked consternation among many property owners, who filed informal appeals by the deadline in September.

During the informal appeal process, of the 4,511 parcel valuations that Frost's staff reviewed, the Auditor's office reduced them by a median $9,800 or 7.7 percent from $127,800 to $118,000.

Of the 2,132 parcels whose valuations they lowered, the median reduction was by $15,150 or 10.7 percent to a median value of $124,150 from $141,700.

Of the 123 properties whose valuations they increased, the Auditor's office raised them by a median of $5,200 or 4.2 percent from $124,500 to $135,800.

Frost said during the review, the staff appraiser may have found a major improvement to the property that required the value to be increased.

Jim Gillilan, 74, of Plain Township said he appealed the increase of his valuation of his three-bedroom split-level home on Sapphire Avenue NE from $115,200 to about $132,000.

The auditor's office reduced it to about $125,000 after he submitted pictures of his unfinished garage with a broken floor.

"I was pleasantly surprised," said Gillilan. "It was a fair assessment I believe."

Tina Shaheen appealed the increase in valuation on four parcels in Canton on which her restaurant Desert Inn is located on 12th Street NW. The auditor's office originally increased the valuation from $433,900 to $539,900.

But Shaheen said she spent more than $1,000 for an appraiser who determined the properties were worth $480,000.

The Auditor's office knocked down the valuation to $485,000.

"Well it's much better than what it was. I'm OK with it," Shaheen said. "I'm not going to (complain) about $5,000."

A couple of property owners said they never got the notices. Frost said in many cases, people had forgotten which email address they provided with their appeal.

Frost said anyone who doesn't agree with the valuation after the informal appeal can file a formal appeal with the Stark County Board of Revision by April 1. The first property taxes that reflect the new valuation will go out around mid-January.

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @rwangREP.