Detroit officials to unveil property assessment changes

The Detroit News

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is set Monday to announce details of the city’s annual proposed property assessment changes, which are expected to bring a reduction in assessments for nearly all city residential property owners.

A news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Joined by Detroit’s chief financial officer John Hill, chief assessor Gary Evanko and a Detroit City Council representative, Duggan also will discuss how property owners can dispute their proposed assessments.

The unveiling comes about a year after the mayor announced that residential property assessments citywide would decline 5 percent to 20 percent in 2015, the second consecutive year he cut taxes. The cuts meant residents would pay an estimated $10 million to $15 million less in property taxes, city officials told The Detroit News.

It followed years of complaints from homeowners that home assessments, which taxes are based on, didn’t match market value, significantly increasing taxes and leading to foreclosures.

A yearlong investigation by The News in 2013 found Detroit was over-assessing homes by an average of 65 percent, according to a review of state tax appeals. The analysis found the administrative court reduced Detroit property values at a far higher rate than neighboring communities and nearly 50 percent more than the county average.

The series prompted state regulators in 2014 to overhaul Detroit’s Assessment Division.

A report the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy released last fall recommended that Detroit cut its tax rate, which is the highest of any major U.S. city and more than double the average rate for neighboring cities. The rate for homeowners is 69 mills, $69 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

The system’s “structural flaws” are tied to the record number of tax foreclosures in Detroit, the researchers found. In 2015, Wayne County foreclosed on a record 28,000 properties, with the majority in Detroit. An estimated 8,000 were thought to be occupied.

City officials told The News last year that reforms were underway but most of its recommendations would require changes to state law.