(Plain Press, October 2018) Residents of the Lincoln Heights Block Club in the Tremont neighborhood were alarmed at the huge increases in their property tax valuations they received in the mail. In a letter to the editor “Property tax increases alarm Lincoln Heights Block Club residents – an appeal to Cuyahoga County and City representatives for relief” published in the September issue of the Plain Press, Lincoln Heights Block Club Chair Henry Senyak described property owners in the neighborhood along the Scranton corridor. “Most properties have been in the same hands for generations. The property owners are mostly all working class, or living on small levels of retirements and fixed incomes,” he said.
Senyak attended the August 28thcommunity meeting at Franklin Circle Church where Cuyahoga County Chief Fiscal Officer Dennis Kennedy and Cuyahoga County Director of Appraisals Dan Harbaugh explained the appraisal process, and how to challenge an individual appraisal.
In the days following the meeting, Citizens United For Fairness and former Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar announced that Cuyahoga County officials had met one of their demands. They had extended the deadline when taxpayers could refute the county’s appraisal of their property from August 31stto September 14th.
The second demand for accessible meetings in the neighborhood was not met. Oakar said, “getting ½ a loaf is helpful, but we still demand that the County meet with people in their neighborhoods. There are many problems with these appraisals, and we will continue to make sure that the County is accurate, fair and transparent.”
Members of the Lincoln Heights Block Club did take advantage of the additional information provided at the Franklin Circle Church meeting and the extended deadline. Block Club Chairperson Senyak reported that the appraisal issue was discussed in detail at the block club’s September 10thmeeting. Senyak said, “I think about two dozen people contacted the County to request Informal Appeals just in Lincoln Heights. Several neighbors did get comparables on how they (Cuyahoga County) arrived at the increase.”
While Cuyahoga County officials reported at the Franklin Circle meeting that appraisals did not compare older homes that have not been totally rehabilitated with substantially-rehabilitated homes, Senyak said this was not the case in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood. He said, “It was clear that almost everyone had the same totally rehabbed and flipped homes for big money as a comparable.”