June 11, 2020

Delaware County Property Assessments: 9 Things You Should Know

By now many of you have received notices regarding an increase in your property values in Delaware County based on a reassessment done by a company called Tyler Technologies. As a resident of Delaware county I received the same thing. 

This property value is directly linked to how much you will pay in county, municipal and school taxes in the year 2021 and beyond. But this assessment was done PRIOR to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which means that your property value could be inflated. This would mean you pay more in taxes than you should.

We’ve prepared an informative video series about Delaware County property assessments to help county residents understand the implications of the new assessed value amidst the Coronavirus pandemic in which property values have dropped significantly.

1. What Is a Delaware County Property Assessment?

A property assessment is the value that your County says your property is worth for property taxation purposes. 

It is extremely important that the value is correct, because your county assessed value directly determines what your county tax, school district tax and local property tax will be every single year. 

All three property taxes (County, School and Municipality) are calculated using the same Delaware County property assessment. Therefore, the lower your assessment, the lower your property taxes. 

Delaware County recently concluded its court-ordered reassessment of all the real estate within the county. In order to comply with this mandate, the County Council contracted with Tyler Technologies, Inc. in 2017 to provide real property appraisal services for the County’s 2020 general reassessment.  

Property owners began receiving revised Delaware County property assessment values from Tyler Technologies in mid-February 2020. The purpose of this notice was to identify a tentative, new value for your property, effective tax year 2021.  

As part of that process, property owners were given an opportunity to have an “informal” review with Tyler Technologies to contest that valuation. The opportunity to have an “informal review” has now passed.

If you missed the opportunity to schedule an informal review with Tyler, you will have an opportunity to file a formal appeal with Delaware County Board of Assessment when you receive your new notice of value in July 2020. 

Notices will be mailed on or before July 1, 2020. Instructions for filing a formal appeal will be included in that notice.  Generally, the deadline to file an annual appeal against your Delaware County property assessment is August 1st of each year. NOTE: for 2020, the deadline has been extended until September 1st.

As you review the value you received from Tyler Technologies, your primary question should be “Is this the price for which I could sell my property?”  Your assessment should represent 100% of July 1, 2019 market value. Do not apply the current tax rate to your new assessment, the result will be inaccurate. 

The new millage rate will be determined by your Municipality, County, and School District for the 2021 tax year.

2. How Do I Calculate My Property Taxes?

Delaware County Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the county property assessment by the current millage rate for each specific taxing entity. The county millage rate for 2020 is 5.461 mills. 

Each school district and local taxing entity (municipality/borough or township) sets their own specific millage rates each year. Typically, the school district millage rate is largest.

3. Who Sets Taxation Rates?

The county tax millage is set by the Delaware County Council. School district tax millages are set by local school boards. Municipal (local) tax millage rates are set by individual municipalities. 

The County millage rate is typically set by the end of each calendar year for the following year. The setting of millage rates for local taxes and school district taxes varies across the County, as some of these bodies operate on a calendar year while others operate on a fiscal year. 

All millage rates are usually set by the end of June of any given year for the following year.

4. Where Did My Current Assessment Come From?

Delaware County hired Tyler Technologies to conduct the most recent reassessment. The assessment for your property could have changed from the original reassessment value based on appeals, building permits, or various exemptions.

Your property value could have also changed due to the rapidly changing economic situation during the Coronavirus pandemic.

5. Is My Current Assessment Value Correct?

Property owners need to ensure that the building/property information listed for their property is correct. Property owners can correct mistakes in the building information by either filing an appeal, or by submitting the correct information to the County. 

If significant errors are corrected for a property, this can sometimes automatically prompt a change in the assessment value to reflect this change.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate values have plummeted in many areas.  Prior to the pandemic, we were in the midst of an economic boom. Within a very short time-frame, we saw unprecedented unemployment and significant softening in the real estate sector.  

By some estimates, real estate values have been reduced by 24% in many areas. While the value assigned to your property by Tyler Technologies may have been accurate, you must take into consideration that this value was pre-COVID-19. Your property value could have dropped significantly!

Many property owners should consider that their Delaware County property assessment value may have been impacted by the pandemic and should consider getting an appraisal.

6. What Type Of Evidence, If Any, Must I Bring To My Appeal Hearing?

When challenging or defending your 2020 assessment value at your hearing, you must be able to show what your property’s Fair Market Value is.  

For the purposes of contesting the value assigned to your Property by Tyler Technologies, it highly recommended that a certified appraisal be the primary evidence submitted to the board.  

While a property owner can use comparable sales (comps), many times the Board will refuse to consider this type of evidence. The question for the appeal is focused primarily on what other sales and information suggest about the fair market value of the subject property. 

7. Do I Need To Hire An Attorney To Represent Me?

Hiring an attorney to represent you is your choice. Legal representation is not required. However, most school districts and municipalities will have legal counsel present. We believe that settlements and decisions are more advantageous when a property owner is properly represented by legal counsel. 

Experience has taught us that knowing the process and the individuals involved can make a difference in the success of an assessment appeal. We analyze every case first to ensure that our efforts will justify the cost through increased tax savings. 

These cases can often involve significant tax consequences that will impact the property owner for various years into the future, and the costs of an attorney are often justified.

Our firm has handled hundreds of assessment appeal cases over the last 18 years.  

8. If The School District Or The Municipality Filed An Appeal Against My Property, Should I Attend?

You are not required to attend an appeal filed on your property by your school district or municipality. However, you may attend the hearing to present evidence for your case if you so choose. If you do not appear at a scheduled hearing involving your property, your assessment value is more likely to increase. 

Even if you do not have a strong case, we always still suggest that property owners attend the hearing and provide any additional information that may help their position. 

This could include any specific information about their property (i.e. problems with the property, repairs needed, etc.) that the hearing officer would not otherwise have knowledge of.

9. Can The Decision From The Board of Assessment Appeals Be Appealed?

You do NOT receive a decision at the time of your Board of Assessment Appeals hearing. The Board makes a recommendation to the Board of Property Assessment of Delaware County, and the Board issues the decision by mail to the property owner. The decision is typically mailed soon after the Board of Assessment Appeal hearing. 

Once the decision is rendered, all parties (property owner and each of the taxing entities) have 30 days to appeal the decision (de novo – meaning “fresh” or “new”) to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. 

 Almost all Delaware County property assessment appeals are handled through arbitration, with many cases ultimately settled between the Property Owner and the taxing authorities.  

Having competent and effective legal representation is a HUGE ADVANTAGE-at this level because the process is immensely more formal and complicated.   It is very important to know your appeal rights. If you are interested about whether filing an appeal is warranted or have more questions, please call us to schedule a FREE consultation.  

Thanks for watching!