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The Taxman Cometh (Again)

Astute readers will notice that I've been writing cover stories every time that a township publishes its assessments.

Those same astute readers will notice that I've been MIA from this blog for a few weeks, but there's a reason for that, which is germane to the issue at hand, so read on.

I'm going to write a story - for the front page whenever possible - informing township residents when their 30-day window begins with which to appeal their assessments by which their property taxes are calculated. I wrote in today's paper that the 30-day window for Chemung Township, which includes most of Harvard, has begun. Harvard property owners have until Oct. 24 to challenge their assessments.

I also plan to write stories to remind you as the deadline for your township draws near. If you live in rural Hartland Township, you have until the end of business Friday. If you live in Nunda Township, you have just under two weeks before your deadline arrives on Oct. 9.

In the name of full transparency, allow me to list my motives for doing this:

• Informing the public about how their money is collected and spent by government is one of my primary jobs.

• Challenging assessments is the one real tool that property owners have, aside from a handful of small exemptions, to either reduce their taxes or limit how much they increase.

• Even though the values of our homes (mine included) have taken a nosedive. our property tax bills are going up – as I wrote here, a lot of people this year saw double-digit increases.

• With a few exceptions, many of our local governments have no intention of going easy on us and plan to take the 3 percent increase next year they are entitled to under the law.

• As I blogged here, the sheer number of taxing bodies on our bills makes it impossible to go to all of their meetings and ask them all to please, please not raise taxes.

• Among this backdrop of lower property values, increasing taxes and years of 8 percent unemployment, somegovernments and civic groups are talking about expansion and tax increases.

• These same governments have paid Springfield lobbyists, with our property tax dollars, to fight efforts to limit what they can levy when assessments decrease.

And as for the final reason, which ties in to why I haven't been blogging for a while, I'm working on a series of stories examining our local tax load and how it is affecting our livelihoods, quality of living and job growth. More on that later.

Anyway, if you live in Chemung Township and Harvard proper, you have a month to try to get your assessment lower. Hartland Township residents have a few more days. Get moving. And if you need help, call your township assessor or visit this website to get an idea of how to start.

Upcoming Deadlines

If you live in Richmond, Alden, Seneca or Greenwood townships, your deadline has passed. Sorry. Here's a list of all posted deadlines by township for challenging assessments.

• Hartland Township residents have until the end of the day Friday.

• Nunda Township residents have until Oct. 9.

• Dorr Township residents have until Oct. 12.

• McHenry Township residents have until Oct. 15.

• Residents of Burton and Dunham townships have until Oct. 19.

• Chemung Township residents have until Oct. 24.

Coral Township is expected to publish its assessments by the end of this week.

Townships that have not yet set a publishing date are Algonquin, Grafton, Marengo, Riley and Hebron.

Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at kcraver@shawmedia.com.

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