Flatter market could relieve tax appeals
City officials, still struggling with a backlog of property assessment appeals in 2007, say they expect to find some breathing room this year thanks to a flatter real estate market.
Today is the last day to file property assessment appeals for the valuations issued in mid-December. Property values dipped slightly after four years of sharp increases.
"The values are not rising, so we don't expect as many appeals," said Gary Kurokawa, administrator for the Real Property Assessment Division, soon after the city mailed out homeowners' property assessments in mid-December last year. The assessments showed Oahu's values as flat overall.
"That's the logical expectation, but you never know until we receive them all," he said.
Bob Magota, assistant administrator for the division, said yesterday the city does not have a firm count of the number of appeals received so far because most homeowners choose to mail in their forms. Last year the city received about 7,000 appeals, half of which have been processed.
Some homeowners have been frustrated with the city's slow system of processing appeals. Bob Jones, who lives in the Diamond Head area, said he filed appeals in the past two years and has not received any feedback on either of them.
"The fair thing would be to say (the city has) to handle the appeal by the time the actual tax bills go out in July so that no one is forced to pay a tax on a property that was mis-assessed," Jones said.
Jones said the assessment on his home last year was less than in previous years, and he does not plan to appeal.
Kurokawa said the city is limited by the number of appraisers on the appeals board, who also have to conduct on-site visits. He hopes a proposal being discussed in the City Council to file appeals electronically will help streamline the process.
Homeowners have until 4:30 p.m. to file their assessment appeals in person at the city's two Real Property Assessment offices, located in the basement of 842 Bethel St. in downtown Honolulu or at 1000 Uluohia St., Room 206, in Kapolei. They can also mail in their appeals, with today's postmark, to the Tax Appeal Court at 777 Punchbowl St., Honolulu, HI 96813.