Literature teachers can expose their students to the meaning of the novel Catch-22 by having them observe their Stark County government in action.
In January, I presented information to an appeals board, consisting of Commissioner Janet Creighton, Treasurer Alexander Zumbar and Gary Zeigler from Auditor Alan Harold’s office, to reinstate CAUV on four contiguous parcels totaling 14.73 acres.
I asked the appraiser, who decided to deny CAUV, if she hadn’t noticed that construction on Gracemont Street and I-77 bridge replacement had cut off access to two of the parcels.
She suggested I request a one-year inactive break, but added those parcels looked unattended for two years: Not only Catch-22, but time travel.
The appeals board was unaware that two of the parcels were more than 60 percent under flood easement until I told them. They said they would review and let me know the value change.
The next time I heard from them was June, simply in the form of my new whole-year tax bill, unchanged. I called Zeigler, and he made a good-faith effort to explain everything.
Good news: Stark County is going to factor in the flood easements.
Bad news: That happens in 2016, after I’ve paid thousands of dollars for a three-year recoupment based on Stark-appraised values that are fantasy.
Catch-22. Zeigler explained the market values are based on their appraisals and the recent sale of nearby similar properties.
Three unimproved properties, 9.73 acres I purchased in 2011 for about $14,000. Kiko Agency, a renowned and trustworthy appraiser, set the value at about $13,000 in 2010.
In 2011, I had to sell .572-acre to the state for the Gracemont project, for $800. That would put the market value at $13,608.38.
Stark has its market value at $41,300, with a recoupment of about $1,400. What about refiguring the taxes based on its true market and taxable values?
The decision has already been made.
Catch-22. Zumbar suggested I give them information on the location of 52.92 acres I own on Blough Avenue in Bethlehem Township, like all of my other parcels, so they might consider it one economic unit. I did, and I never heard back from them.
When I talked to Zeigler in June, he said they didn’t consider it because some of my parcels were in Tuscarawas County, and some were in East Sparta.
Simply put, my mailing address is Bolivar, but if I put my mailbox on the other side of the road, it would be East Sparta, which is 6-7 miles away but encompasses the mailing addresses of the three unimproved parcels.
So how about reconsidering, now that that’s clarified?
Nope, already decided on misconceptions.
Catch-22. This just isn’t right or fair.