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April 16, 2024

Coles County – Assessment roll back path provided by Department of Revenue- County ignoring it?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On April 11, 2017

Coles Co. (ECWd)

In order to follow the mess created by Coles County officials as it relates to the assessment of commercial property, we urge you to review all the articles written to date found here, here, here, and here.

The State’s Attorney and County Board members have been consistent with statements that if there was a way to fix the assessment issue they would. They have defaulted to the fact the assessment was published so there is nothing they can do.

We contend that is not true and communications between County Board member Cory Sanders and the Department of Revenue appear to spell out quite clearly why such a position is not true.

“Cory, there is nothing that specifically allows you to roll back assessments, especially if they were correctly done.”

If they were done correctly?  What does it take for them to be done correctly?  How about the person doing them has to be allowed by law to do them, which in this case, did not happen and was covered in detail in this article.  So for starters, they were not done correctly because the law outlining who does those assessments was not followed.

I would be careful on rolling back the assessments that were already done, as there will be republishing requirements along with other requirements. We cannot provide guidance about doing this; you would be best to consult your state’s attorney regarding this matter. However, I can tell you the statute does not address a procedure for rolling back assessments on properly assessed property.”

So it is clear, the Department of Revenue is on the record instructing that rolling back assessments brings with it republishing requirements along with other requirements.  They also, once again, focus on there not being a procedure for such a roll back on the properly assessed property.

The Department of Revenue is telling them the way to fix this based on what they are being asked and it’s clear, since the assessments were not done properly (legal assessor) then there is, in fact, a way to roll them back.

It’s called leading!  As in take the bull by the horns and fix this problem by rolling back the assessments to the 2015 schedule because the 2016 assessments were not done by anyone legally permitted to do them, thus they were not properly done.

There is no penalty language in the statute that we could find for rolling them back so it appears the comments from the review board may be the real reason they are refusing to fix this mess.  According to one of the board members (video to be published later), they had to do this reassessment because they were being threatened by the City of Matton with a lawsuit if they didn’t do it.

Pick your Poison

The lawsuit the county is now facing is not one from local political figures but rather local business owners who stepped up and hired a Harvard Top Gun.  The lawsuit that may well be filed in a matter of days is a Federal lawsuit and points to a violation of the US Constitution Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

Keep it simple

Mr. Sanders asked the Department of Revenue three questions and it appears only two were answered.  We will answer all three.

  1. Can the county revert the township they did reassess and delay the new assessed valuations until all townships this year so all reassessments are hitting people in the same calendar year?
  2. Is there any kind of penalty the county could receive if we do revert back to previous assessment for this year?
  3. Is there a statute that says there is nothing we can do in this situation?

This simple:

  1. Considering the assessments were not done correctly, you can roll them back to the previous year and as informed by the Department of Revenue, you would have publishing obligations to meet.
  2. No, there is no penalty to the county for reverting back to the previous year.  If there was a penalty, they would have been hit with it for the last 16 years that assessments were not being done.
  3. N0, there is no statute that says there is nothing you can do.  There are statutes that tell you how to fix this problem.

We challenge the County to present the information outlined below to the Department of Revenue, along with our question and see what kind of response they get back.  I suspect they will not ever ask it because it is an admission they did not follow the law in the first place but in the event they truly want to do the right thing by the people, present it and see what they say.

The assessments for the commercial property was not done by anyone legally allowed to do them as defined in the law.  That being the case, we contend the assessments were not done correctly. With that position, we intend to roll back to the previous properly done assessment and re-publish that applicable information.  Is there any other requirement beyond the republishing that we need to do?  In addition, we find no penalty in the statutes for following this path. 

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