Minneapolis Property Owners Winning War With Tax Assessor

Homeowners’ complaints over inflated property valuations by Minneapolis tax assessors have paid off for the vast majority who took on the city. Hundreds of residents have received write-downs after challenging the city’s huge increases in their property assessments, according to the Star Tribune’s numbers.

City assessors and the board that handles appeals have spent the past month scrambling to respond to the 1,400 property owners who said the city tax assessor had bungled the valuation of their real estate. The board approved changes on 1,144 of those properties, or about 82 percent of official appeals, according to data released by the city Wednesday.

The reductions amounted to about 10 percent of the properties’ assessed value, city data showed.

The paper featured homeowner Scott Ewing who convinced city assessors to reduce his $65,000 increase in valuation by more than half. But Ewing suspects many homeowners were afraid to take on City Hall or else the avalanche of appeals would have been greater.

The downward adjustment made to hundreds of properties offers conclusive evidence city assessors goofed up. But to the bureaucrats, it’s proof the system works!

[City Assessor Patrick] Todd, who will present the appeals data to the City Council Thursday, said the high rate of successful appeals doesn’t mean the city assessments were inflated across the board. On the contrary, he said, it’s evidence that the city’s system is working effectively.

His office communicated with more than 3,300 property owners, and about 1,400 took the step to appeal. That accounts for slightly more than 1 percent of all of the properties assessed, he said.

“The whole purpose of this is to focus on the ones that aren’t correct,” he said. “That would be like measuring a doctor’s success based on the patients he sees. … I only go to the doctor when I’m sick.”