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Property Tax Resources

Jan
01

Georgia Property Tax Updates

UPDATED december 2021

Important Valuation Question Expected to Be Answered by Georgia Court of Appeals

The answer to the question of which method of valuation (cost approach, sales approach and income approach) is appropriate to appraise properties in which the taxpayer receives tax credits in exchange for offering rental units at below market rates (Low Income Housing Tax Credit or “LIHTC” properties.) is expected to be answered in a Georgia Court of Appeals case. Bainbridge, L.P. v. DeKalb County Board of Tax Assessors, Case No. A21S1808.  Both LIHTC property owners and county tax assessors look forward to the decision, but it is possible that all may have to wait longer for a final decision because attempts may be made by whichever party does not win to have the Georgia Supreme Court hear the case.

Lisa F. Stuckey
Ragsdale, Beals, Seigler, Patterson & Gray, LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Idaho Property Tax Updates

Updated june 2020

Looking at Taxable Value Increase Limits

Employees of the Idaho State Tax Commission recently published an analysis of property tax value limits.* Idaho assessors must assess property at market value as of January 1 each year. Unlike some states, there is no cap on how much the value can increase each year. According to the article, this promotes transparency because caps on value mislead taxpayers. Lower taxable values give the illusion of lower taxes. “Taxpayers have nothing to appeal (i.e., their values will not exceed market value),” so they believe they are paying less than without the cap. Caps also place a greater burden on owners of properties whose values are not keeping pace with the increases contemplated by the cap. 

In 2006, Idaho considered adopting a cap. But no property tax changes are on the horizon now. Legislative work is likely done for 2020 (despite recent efforts of some legislators, backed by armed supporters, to convene a special session). And dropping market values makes limits of less interest now. The article, however, provides a thoughtful framework for evaluating proposals for value limits in the future. 

*Alan S. Dornfest, Kathlynn Ireland, and Mark Southard, Taxable Value Increase Limits – Revisited, Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Admin. 49 (Vol. 17, Issue 1).

Michelle DeLappe & Norman J. Bruns
Foster Garvey PC
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Illinois Property Tax Updates

Updated March 2015

The Story of Real Estate Taxes - 2015

Chicagoans should be wary about their 2015 Real Estate Tax Bills. Up to now, Chicago Taxpayers have fared much better than their suburban neighbors when it comes to real estate taxes. Tax Year 2015 may well mark the beginning of a “Perfect Tax Storm” in Chicago.

In 2015, all property lying within Chicago will be re-valued. It seems very clear that the Assessor has determined that the Great Recession has become an event of history and that most segments of the real estate market are well on the way to recovery.

Thus far, new valuation Notices have only been sent to the property owners in one of the eight townships that comprise the City of Chicago. We have been able to review the new values. On average, the assessed values in that township have increased approximately fifteen (15%) percent. Multi-family residential properties have increased beyond twenty (20%) percent, single family residences and condominiums have risen to triple digit increases in some cases. Based on what we have seen in the first townships, we have to forecast even greater increases for most of the other townships.

Real estate values are only one component in the calculation of real estate taxes. The other critical component is the Tax Rate. The Tax Rate is determined by dividing the total budgets of all the Municipal and County agencies which provide services to the public by the total taxable value of the service area. That will include school districts, police, fire, park districts and more.

In 2015 and 2016, the pension deficits of the City agencies are about to reach catastrophic proportions. The Mayor’s staff is looking to Real Estate Taxes to reduce these deficits.

A PERFECT TAX STORM!

James P. Regan
Fisk Kart Katz Regan & Levy, Ltd.
Telephone:  (312) 726-1833
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Indiana Property Tax Updates

UPDATED december 2019

Indiana Tax Court: Under The Income Approach, Fee Simple Interest Must Be Valued Based On Market Rents

Name:  Southlake Indiana LLC v. Lake County Assessor (the decision can be viewed here -- https://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/11251901mbw.pdf)

Date Issued:  November 25, 2019

Property Type:  Retail store

Assessment Years:  2007-2014  

Synopsis:  Taxpayer owns a 90,000 SF two-story, freestanding retail building in Northwestern Indiana, which it leased to a retailer doing business nationwide.  The property was encumbered by a build-to-suit lease, originally executed in 1992 and renewed in 2012. At the administrative hearing before the Indiana Board of Tax Review, the parties’ appraisals developed all three approaches to value but relied primarily on the income approach.  The Indiana Board’s final determination assigned no weight to the appraisers’ sales comparison and cost approaches.  The Tax Court explained, “To determine which appraiser’s estimate of market rent [under the income approach] was best supported, the Indiana Board used its own unique evaluation method.”  The Indiana Board examined 16 leases from the parties’ appraisers, made certain adjustments, and ultimately concluded that the market rents and income approach values offered by the Assessor’s appraiser were more credible.

Observing that Indiana assesses the value of real property – not business value, investment value, or the value of contractual rights – the Tax Court observed: “when valuing a property under the income approach, the fee simple interest in property must be valued based on an estimate of market rent, not contract rent.”  Comparable rental data, the Court further noted, must “represent freely negotiated, arm’s length transactions.” 

Assessor’s appraiser failed to adjust the rental data from the build-to-suit leases upon which his income approach relied.  Accordingly, those leases were not probative evidence of the market value of the subject property’s real property alone.  In contrast, the record evidence showed that Taxpayer’s appraiser exercised caution in using any build-to-suit rental data.  That the build-to-suit rental data “relied heavily on” by Assessor’s appraiser and the Indiana Board  “was neither adjusted nor explained as reflecting market rent” was contrary to law, the Court held. 

Finally, the Court explained that “no reasonable person reviewing the administrative record would find enough relevant evidence to support the Indiana Board’s reconstruction of [the Taxpayer’s Appraiser’s] percentage of gross sales analysis or its resulting conclusions.”  Therefore, the Indiana Board’s final determination also was unsupported by substantial or reliable evidence. 

The Tax Court reversed the final determination and ordered the Indiana Board to determine assessed values based, in part, on market rents derived by the analysis offered by the Appraiser for the Taxpayer. 

- The above facts and summary of the holding are based solely on the information presented in the published opinion issued by the Indiana Tax Court. 

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Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

Declining To Reweigh The Evidence, Indiana Tax Court Affirms Assessments Of CVS Store Based On Cost Approach

Name: CVS Corporation v. Elkhart County Assessor (can be accessed at
https://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/12091901mbw.pdf)

Date Issued: December 9, 2019

Property Type: Retail pharmacy

Assessment Years: 2012 – 2015

Point of Interest: Indiana Tax Court would not reweigh the record evidence, which supported the Indiana Board of Tax Review’s conclusion of value based solely on the cost approach without adjustment for external obsolescence.

Synopsis: CVS challenged the assessments of its nearly 11,000 SF retail pharmacy, built in 2004 and situated on 1.26 acres of land. The County Assessor had valued the property at a range of approximately $1 Million to $1.1 Million for the four contested assessment dates. At the consolidated administrative hearing before the Indiana Board of Tax Review, both parties presented USPAP-compliant appraisals; both appraisers applied all three approaches to value but assigned weight to them differently. For CVS, its appraiser gave most weight to the sales and income approaches, concluding to a range of $800,000 to $890,000. For the Assessor, her appraiser assigned equal weight to each of the three approaches, opining on a value for each year of about $1.8 Million.

The Indiana Board applied the cost approach, without obsolescence. The Indiana Board concluded that the cost approach – absent any adjustment for economic obsolescence – was the most persuasive indication of value for this eight- to eleven-year-old store. The Indiana Board disregarded both appraisers’ sales and income approaches completely, finding them too flawed, and concluded to values of more than $1.2 Million for each year.

The Court will not reweigh the evidence. The Tax Court noted that the Indiana Board is “required to adopt a value based exclusively on evidence in the administrative record,” but it is not obligated to “adopt the same weight afforded to the evidence” that the appraisers applied in their respective reports. The Court further explained that the record evidence supported the Indiana Board’s rejection of external obsolescence. The appraiser for CVS had testified in “vague generalities” about the subject property’s “softer market.” The Assessor’s appraiser, however, presented evidence regarding growth in population, employment and gross domestic product in the local area during the years at issue. CVS was asking the Court to reweigh the record evidence in its favor, something the Court cannot do “absent a showing that the Indiana Board has abused its discretion.” Concluding that the Indiana Board had acted within its statutory authority, the Court affirmed the final determination.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Esq.
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

Indiana Tax Court Affirms Assessment of Vacant Lot Based on Appraisal and Testimony of the Appraiser

Name:  Sheerin v. LaPorte County Assessor (which can be viewed at https://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/12111901tgf.pdf)

Date Issued:  December 11, 2019

Property Type:   Vacant lot

Assessment Year:  2015

Point of Interest:  Appraisal offered by Assessor had minor flaws but sufficiently established a prima facie case supporting the assessed value of a vacant lot. Relying on the appraisal and the appraiser’s testimony, the Indiana Board of Tax review did not abuse its discretion in affirming the assessed value.

Synopsis:  A 6,000 SF rectangular vacant lot, which was zoned residential, was “buildable,” but several issues would make any construction more costly than normal, i.e. it had a “severe slope,” a lack of rear access, the need for septic installation, and a proximity to overhead power lines. Though the County Board had reduced the assessment from $220,000 to $132,000, Owner appealed to the Indiana Board of Tax Review.

Before the Indiana Board, Assessor had the burden of proof. Assessor engaged an appraiser who, relying on sales of three vacant lots, estimated the property’s vale at $160,000 as of January 1, 2015. Owner challenged the comparability of the three sales and claimed the appraiser made other errors. The Indiana Board affirmed the $132,000 assessment despite “minor flaws” in the appraisal, ruling the Assessor had made a prima facie case supporting the property’s assessment, which Owner failed to rebut with probative, market evidence. Assessor had not asked for an increase in the lot’s value.

Before the Tax Court, Owner repeated his arguments from the administrative appeal and asserted that the Indiana Board improperly deferred to the “perfidious” appraisal offered by the Assessor. The Tax Court observed, “When, as here, the Indiana Board determines the evidence presented at the administrative level has probative value, the Court will not reverse its determination that a litigant made a prima facie case absent an abuse of discretion.” Here, the Indiana Board concluded that the appraisal, despite its problems, and the appraiser’s testimony “provided a sufficient explanation of the methods and information used to derive the estimate of value.” Owner did not establish that the Indiana Board had abused its discretion because its final determination “comports with the law and is supported by substantial evidence.” The Tax Court affirmed the Indiana Board’s ruling.

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Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Iowa Property Tax Updates

UPDATED March 2019

The Time to Negotiate Iowa Property Tax Assessments is Now

On April 1, 2019, assessors around the state of Iowa will release their property tax assessment values.  This starts the clock for negotiations.

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 441.30, from April 2 until April 25, aggrieved taxpayers may contact local assessors and make an informal request that the assessment be changed.  This can result in a written agreement with the assessor to correct or modify the assessment, or an agreement by the assessor to file a recommendation with the local board of review that the assessment be changed.  Assessors around Iowa take this period seriously.  The time to consider negotiations is now.

Here is a brief overview of the Iowa appeal deadlines:

  • January 1 – Assessment date (Iowa Code § 441.46)
  • April 1 – Assessor’s release assessment values (Iowa Code § 441.23)
  • April 2-25 – Time to negotiate with assessors (Iowa Code § 441.30)
  • April 30 – Iowa Board of Review protests due (Iowa Code § 441.37)
  • Later date of May 31 or 20 days after board of review opinion – Deadline to file appeal with PAAB or district court (Iowa Code §§ 441.37A, 441.37B, 441.38)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Elizabeth Carter
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Kansas Property Tax Updates

Updated june 2021

Two pieces of legislation were enacted into law: HB2104 & SB13

HB 2104: 

The bill makes several clarifications/changes to the property tax appeals process. Including (1)  All appraisals must comply with USPAP; (2) Parties can request electronic service of all correspondence/orders from the Board of Tax Appeals; (3) Your valuation cannot be increased at the informal level or by the Board of Tax Appeals; (4) The burden of proof is on the county in cases filed by the taxpayer to the District Court de novo; (5) IAAO certifications will no longer be accepted as qualifying to be a county appraiser; and (6) All courses for county appraisers must be coursework approved by the Kansas Real Estate Appraisal Board.

 http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/measures/documents/hb2104_enrolled.pdf

SB13: 

This bill authorizes county treasurers to set up a payment plan for property taxes. The bill also prohibits a valuation increase for normal repair, replacement, or maintenance of existing structures, equipment, or other improvements on the real estate.

http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2021_22/measures/documents/sb13_enrolled.pdf

Linda Terrill
Property Tax Law Group, LLC
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

 

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Jan
01

Kentucky Property Tax Updates

UPDATED september 2021

Is Kentucky a "Leased Fee" State?

In LWAGLVKY 1 LLC v. Jefferson County PVA, the Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals held that the assessor properly assessed the leased fee interest in several Walgreens stores, holding that that the leased fee interest "represents the fair cash value" for the properties.  The KBTA rejected Walgreens' contention that market rent for comparable properties was the proper measure of value.  Instead, the KBTA held that the contract rent under the leases "represent market rent for build to suit properties, thus the leased fee interest is the fee simple interest."  The KBTA correctly noted that the income approach is a valid method for assessment of income-producing properties, but ignored the distinction between the income attributable to the real property and the income attributable to the lease itself. 

Walgreens has appealed the decision to the Jefferson Circuit Court.

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Morgan Pottinger McGarvey

American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Louisiana Property Tax Updates

Updated june 2021

Louisiana Supreme Court issues opinion resulting in big property tax win for industry

On October 20, 2020, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a major decision in an ad valorem (property) tax case.  D90 Energy, LLC v. Jefferson Davis Parish Board of Review, 2020-C-200 (La. 10/20/2020).  This ruling is a key Louisiana tax decision on the scope of authority possessed by Assessors in ad valorem (property) tax matters and for the Louisiana Tax Commission (“LTC” or “Commission”) as a reviewing body. 

In 2012, D90 Energy, a multi-state, independent oil and gas operator, purchased two gas wells and one salt-water disposal well for $100,000.  Facing a fair market valuation by the Assessor of over $3 million, the operator paid $110,000 in taxes under protest for the first two tax years (2013 and 2014) – more than it paid for the property – and appealed the Assessor’s decision. D90 Energy did not pay under protest for the last two tax years – 2015 and 2016 - because it prevailed at the Tax Commission for the first two tax years.

D90 relied upon the purchase price of $100,000.00 for the three wells, until 2016, in which it sought the 90% reduction provided for shut-in wells under LTC Rules and Regulations. The Assessor determined fair market value using tables in the LTC Rules and Regulations providing estimated “cost new” values for well properties, but the assessor refused to consider any adjustments for allowance of economic obsolescence based upon the $100,000 purchase price and the subsequent shut-in of the wells.

The Tax Commission ruled in favor of D90 Energy in three separate hearings covering the four tax years.  The LTC conducted three (3) full evidentiary hearings, heard live testimony and received documentary evidence, made written findings of fact, and issued Reasons for Decision for the four (4) tax years.  In these rulings, the LTC assigned a value of $235,000.00 for each of the 2013-2015 tax years, considering (1) the purchase price of $100,000; and (2) estimated plug and abandon liability costs of $135,000.00 for the three wells. For the 2016 tax year, the LTC arrived at a value of $145,000.00, based upon a 90% shut-in reduction in the purchase price to $10,000.00, and an additional $135,000.00 for the plug and abandon liability costs. For all tax years, the Louisiana Tax Commission reduced the fair market value, heavily weighing a Tax Commission regulation that requires valid, properly documented sales to be considered by an Assessor as a measure of fair market value.[1] 

The Assessor’s suits for judicial review were consolidated by the District Court in Jefferson Davis Parish. The District Court affirmed the LTC decisions, finding no basis to overturn the LTC’s decisions. The Assessor appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, which reversed the decisions of the District Court and the LTC and reinstated the Board of Review decisions to set fair market value according to the original denominations made by the Assessor.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeal reasoned that the Tax Commission should have afforded “much discretion” to the Assessor’s determination of value.  As a consequence, the Court of Appeal overturned the LTC’s finding that the arms-length sale price of $100,000, together with future plug and abandonment costs, should be the measure of fair market value.  In addition, for the 2015 and 2016 tax years, the Court of Appeal found that D90 Energy had no right to appeal the fair market valuation because no payment under protest was made for those specific years.  The Assessor filed an exception of no right of action asserting that because D90 failed to pay the disputed tax amounts under protest for the 2015 and 2016 tax years, that it was barred from disputing the valuations and assessments for those years. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted D90 Energy’s writ application to review the Third Circuit’s decision.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision and reinstated the Tax Commission’s decisions in favor of D90 Energy. The Supreme Court found that the Tax Commission properly corrected the Assessor’s fair market value determination by considering the recent arms-length sale from Goldking to D90 Energy.  The Supreme Court found that the Tax Commission possessed the authority to correct the Assessor’s valuation, and the record evidence supported the correction.  The recent sale, as opposed to regulatory tax tables, was a proper measure of value for D90 Energy’s well properties under the facts.  The Supreme Court also found that the Tax Commission was not limited to reviewing only the information provided to the Assessor, but could take evidence, hear testimony, and consider the administrative record established before it in an appeal of an Assessor’s determination of value. The Assessor argued that he had the sole right to determine fair market value under the La. Constitution, and that the Tax Commission’s valuations deserved no deference. The Supreme Court found that the La. Constitution clearly provided the Tax Commission the right of review and that the evidentiary hearing required by law in an appeal to the Commission indicated that the Commission could hear new evidence as part of the scope of its responsibilities. The Court noted, “If the Commission can only review and consider the evidence submitted to an Assessor, a hearing is meaningless.”

Finally, the Supreme Court addressed the effect of a taxpayer’s failure to pay under protest when it is successful at a Tax Commission hearing, finding that such payment under protest is not required to preserve a taxpayer’s right to dispute a valuation and assessment when the taxpayer prevails before the Tax Commission.

This ruling is a key Louisiana tax decision on the scope of authority possessed by Assessors in ad valorem (property) tax matters and for the Louisiana Tax Commission as a reviewing body. 

[1] “Sales, properly documented, should be considered by the assessor as fair market value, provided the sale meets all tests relative to it being a valid sale.”  See LAC 61:V.907(A)(6)(e).

Angela W. Adolph
Kean Miller LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

Louisiana Supreme Court Holds Taxpayers Could Not Appeal Assessment Directly to Louisiana Tax Commission

The Louisiana Supreme held in Comeaux v Louisiana Tax Comm’n, No. 2020-CA-01037 (La. May 20, 2021) that the Louisiana Tax Commission (the “Commission”) did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the taxpayers’ 2017 property tax assessment even though the Commission accepted the appeal as a way to enforce its 2016 ruling for the same taxpayer.  The Court determined that Commission’s assertion of jurisdiction over the appeal violated the Louisiana Constitution because the taxpayers had not first appealed to the parish board of review.

The fair market value of the taxpayers’ property had been lowered by the Commission for 2016 but the Lafayette Parish assessor failed to use the lower value for 2017. The taxpayers went back to the Commission to try and force the assessor to use the lower valuation for 2017 and the Commission ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the 2017 appeal under La. R.S. 47:1990[1] because it was enforcing its 2016 ruling instead of reviewing the 2017 assessment.  The Commission then determined that the assessor was required to follow the 2016 revised value for 2017.

The assessor appealed the Commission’s decision regarding the 2017 assessment, arguing that La. R.S. 47:1990, as applied by the Commission, was unconstitutional because it violated La. Const. art. VII, §18(D) and (E), which provide that an assessment must be reviewed first by the board of review and then by the Commission and that the parish assessors “shall determine the fair market value of property” for purposes of property taxation.. 

The Supreme Court agreed with the parish assessor, holding that La. R.S. 47:1990 did not give the Commission jurisdiction to review the 2017 assessment because the taxpayers had not first appealed to the board of review.  The court disagreed with the Commission’s argument that it was not “reviewing” the 2017 assessment but instead was simply enforcing its determination regarding the 2016 assessment.

Importantly, however, the Court also found that based on its prior holding in D90 Energy, LLC v. Jefferson Davis Par. Bd. of Review, 2020-00200 (La. 10/1/20), the Commission did not exceed its rulemaking authority in requiring that the assessor apply the 2016 valuation, as determined by the Commission, in assessing the taxpayer for 2017.  The Court reaffirmed that the Commission has the authority pursuant to La. Const. Art. VII, §18(D) and under La. R.S. 47:1837(D) and La. R.S. 47:2323 to establish uniform rules related to appraisal of property, the parish assessors must abide by these rules, and the rule at issue did not unconstitutionally infringe upon the powers of the assessors provided in La. Const. art. VII, §18(D) and did not unconstitutionally conflict with the requirements set forth in La. Const. art. VII, §18(F). 

Angela W. Adolph
Kean Miller LLP
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Maine Property Tax Updates

Updated December 2014

Ignoring The Assessor's Inquiries Can Be Fatal To Your Appeal

In Maine the assessor may require the taxpayer to answer in writing all proper inquires as to the nature, situation, and value of the taxpayer's property liable to be taxed. This request can include income, expenses, manufacturing or generational efficiencies, manufactured or generated sale price trends, or other related information. A taxpayer has thirty days to respond to the inquiring. Upon written request a taxpayer has an automatic thirty day extension to respond to the inquiring. The failure to supply the information will bar the taxpayer the right of appeal. Please be aware that some assessors use this provision of the law to inundate the taxpayer with inquires. The property of some of these inquires is questionable and some inquires appear to be patently improper. These inquires can be a cynical attempt to have the taxpayer's appeal dismissed for failing to comply with an inquiry.

David G. Saliba
Saliba & Saliba
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Maryland Property Tax Updates

UPDATED September 2019

Upcoming 2020 Reassessment and Mid-Cycle Appeal Deadline

Major markets in Maryland set to be reassessed as of 1/1/2020 are Bethesda & Chevy Chase (Montgomery County), Laurel & Bowie (Prince George’s County), Hanover & the BWI Airport area (Anne Arundel County), Mount Vernon & Midtown (Baltimore City) and Towson (Baltimore County).  Even if your property is not set to be reassessed, a mid-cycle appeal can be filed.  It must be noted by January 2, 2020.  Please contact Wilkes Artis to review your property to determine if a mid-cycle appeal is warranted.   

Kevin E. Kozlowski, Esq.
Wilkes Artis, Chartered
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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