OC residents upset about tax values

June 3, 2009 7:25:07 AM PDT
In Orange County, a record number of property owners are fighting to lower their tax bills.As thousands of revaluation notices went out in the mail this week, many got bad news. One family told Eyewitness News they need help.

"We could never sell this house for what it's priced at right now," homeowner Debra Harris said.

"Yeah, there's no way," husband Charles Harris added.

When the Harris' received their property revaluation months ago, they immediately appealed and hired their own appraiser.

And according to reports, a record number of Orange County homeowners are in the same position.

This week, 4,700 homeowners received letters in the mail with their revaluation results.

The Harris' say it was a jaw-dropping notice. Instead of going down, their appealed revaluation is now even higher than it was before.

"Usually you would expect them to say appeal, deny or you stay the same, not in this case," Charles Harris said. "They jacked it up again."

They say it increased by $24,000, and they're not alone.

A notice obtained by Eyewitness News shows another family's revaluation jumped from just $43,000 to $110,000.

"It's hard not to feel penalized for appealing," Harris said.

County tax officials say they estimate about half of the homeowners who filed an appeal will see a decrease in the property valuations.

As for those who see an increase, they're urged to contact the tax assessor's office.

Officials say most Orange County homeowners will see an increase if they've made renovations to their property.

But that is not the case for the Harris'. They say they will still have to go through another round of appeals, another costly appraisal and another risk.

"They really need to look at the economy itself and how it's affecting the people itself, because raising up everybody's taxes is not a solution to fulfilling the budget needs that they have," Charles Harris said.

However, the county says it's not getting rich off of increased property values.

County leaders say they have approved a "revenue neutral" tax rate and have looked for ways to reduce the county budget and the tax rate further.


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