Homeowners demand answers after excessive reassessments

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ATWOOD, Ill. (WCIA) — A Douglas County couple claims the county is harassing them and they’re not getting any answers, so they called Target 3.

Bryan and Charidy Butcher have a nice house, but it’s not worth $342,000.

“I wish it was!” Bryan says.

The last time their home was reassessed, the county mailed them a notice saying its value went up by more than $90,000 over the previous year. The Butchers live in rural Atwood, and haven’t done anything to the house.

“There’s nothing around here selling for even close to that amount,” Charidy says.

And that’s only one of their problems.

State law requires homes to be reassessed once every four years. But the Butchers say their property has been reassessed five of the last six: in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019.

“5 of 6 years almost seems like harassment,” says Charidy, “Call it what you will, but when the state average says once every four years and I’m getting hit 5 of 6 years, there’s something going on there.”

Because the Butchers say those newly assessed values have been way off base, they’ve had to spend time and money to fight it. They say they’ve coughed up more than $2,000 so far.

“We fought that,” says Charidy, “Did all the appeals process, ended up hiring an attorney and going to the state property tax appeal board, of which we won. They had to pay us back the difference, plus interest. So that actually cost the county money.”

Fed up with the situation, the Butchers tried to get answers from the county, but they say that didn’t go so well.

“If you call the office, they just give you the runaround,” Charidy says.

They called Target 3 to try to get answers for them. Supervisor of Assessments Cynthia Baer told us “no comment.”

WCIA also spoke with the township assessor who should have been the one to reassess the home, but he says he’s never been out there to do that– not once– so even he’s confused about how the county arrived at the number they did.

“They had no answers for anything,” says Bryan.

This time around, the board of review re-categorized the property to drop the value down, but the Butchers just got another appraisal on the house for fear that history might repeat itself again.

“You’d think after five of 6 years they know how much of a big pain in the butt I’ve been in their office,” says Charidy, “You’d think, we should probably leave them alone because we know that they will fight it.”

The Douglas County Board of Review has their own issues. State law requires the members to be certified by the Department of Revenue. After they get elected, they have one year to do that.

Two out of the three board members in Douglas County had been in office for at least a year and a half, but the state told WCIA they didn’t get certified until this month. The Douglas County State’s Attorney says that means any judgments they made in the last six months can be called into question and reviewed again.

Target 3 wants to know whether the Butchers were the only people in Douglas County that have had similar issues. If you’ve been reassessed more often than you think you should be, or if your property values seem way off base, email our investigators at target3@wcia.com.

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