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Last day to contest TRIM notice with property appraiser; 1,100 petitions received

By Staff | Sep 16, 2008

Today is the last day for Cape Coral residents to petition the Lee County property appraiser to contest their property’s assessment on their TRIM notice.

Despite plummeting home values due to the housing crisis and a constitutional amendment passed earlier this year doubling the homestead exemption, Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson said that so far he has received less than 30 percent of the petitions he received last year.

As of Monday, 1,100 petitions had been sent to Wilkinson’s office, compared to 3,900 last year.

Wilkinson attributed the decline in petitions to better explanations regarding the issues surrounding assessments this year.

“I’ve had more questions than petitions,” he said.

The main inquiries Wilkinson is fielding are about Amendment 1, a referendum state voters passed in January doubling the homestead exemption, and the so-called “recapture” rule that was passed along with the original Save Our Homes legislation passed in 1992.

Recapture forces an assessment to increase along the Save Our Homes amendment’s guidelines, even if the home’s value decreases. The rule means more than a million homeowners statewide will see increases in their taxable value and decreases in their home value.

Another point of confusion for those who received TRIM notices is that assessments are based on last year’s home sales.

“Now I’m getting calls wanting me to assess their home based on the house down the street that just sold. Obviously we recognize values here have gone down in ’07 and they’ve gone down even further in ’08, but I can’t use that information until next year,” Wilkinson said.

Petitions must be in to the Lee County Clerk of Courts office by 5 p.m. today.

Those challenging their original assessment will receive a notice by mail two weeks before their scheduled hearing before a special magistrate. At the hearing, petitioners or their lawyers can present evidence on their behalf.

Wilkinson said the first hearings will begin in October.