Cuyahoga County Officials Say Post-Russo Appraisals More Accurate

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Marilyn Tomiello is a retired speech pathologist in Chagrin Falls. She loves her Victorian house, which turns 100 next year. Her affection is less keen for a blue and white envelope…

“This is called the 2012 proposed value notice," she says, holding up the document while sitting on the back patio.

Cuyahoga County has appraised Tomiello’s home at a market value of $267,800, which is up 15 percent from the 2009 appraisal. She says while she and her husband have since replaced the garage and driveway…

“…the $36,100 change seems a bit steep. In talking with some people in the village, there seems to be some inequity in the appraisal system. So we’re going to be challenging our increase for the 2012 cycle.”

There are other homeowners shaking their heads – or fists – at the latest round of reappraisals, in Chagrin Falls, Rocky River, and elsewhere. A Plain Dealer report suggests home values may be finally reflecting actual markets, as opposed to when Frank Russo and his staff handled reappraisals. Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer Wade Steen says back then, some may have not been licensed. Or thorough. But this time….

“It was done thoroughly," asserts Steen. "We had certain assumptions, if we didn’t see our assumptions, we’d go back out and ask why. And we went through and gave it not just one set of eyes, two sets of eyes, in most cases three sets of eyes to say, `Are we really getting this right?’ And I think what you’re reading in some of the articles and after you talk to residents, or even some professionals, is that, yeah….we are getting it pretty close to mark. And so some properties did need to have their values raised.”

Steen says overall, residential values in the county went down nearly 9 percent. He says his office is open to discuss appraisals with home owners, but notes that complaints are down from the previous cycle. He says they’ve gotten about 10,000 challenges in the mail, compared to 15,000 last time.

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