SYCAMORE – At an annual meeting of township assessors, members of the DeKalb County Board of Review said assessors’ work will be under increased scrutiny in the future.
That means that township assessors need to be as thorough as possible, board member Robert Merriman said.
“You guys are doing the work,” Merriman said. “We want to make sure we can back that up.”
All three members of the board attended the meeting and said they needed to see assessors’ information during assessment appeals in order to make the right decision. The board hears appeals from property owners who think their property assessment, and thus their taxes, are incorrect.
The annual meeting is required by law before assessors can begin processing assessments in 2018.
One of the ideas stressed in the meeting was that when changing the assessment on a property, the assessor needs to document the reasoning behind it.
“The board wants to see your work,” DeKalb County’s Chief Assessment Officer Robin Brunschon said.
She said photos or brief narratives detailing why a change was made would be helpful.
Board member Anthony Cvek told the assessors that more people were focusing on the work they do.
“We’re not trying to create more work for you guys,” he said. “We’re taking into account the reality that we’re in a state of eyes on our work and, be it citizen initiative or other action, that have caused a renewed look at the work that we’re doing. It’s important to have the backup.”
After the meeting, Cvek did not say where the new focus on assessments was coming from, but said everyone needs to review and reflect on their work occasionally.
Jennifer Cleveland, a Kingston Township assessor charged with forgery, official misconduct and failure of a local assessment officer to perform duties, while trying to lower the taxes of her son’s home – was not at the meeting. Brunschon said Cleveland had called ahead and said she would not be attending the meeting.
Cleveland will have to meet with Brunschon one-on-one to get the information before she is able to assess any properties in 2018.
“People get comfortable in how they do things,” Brunschon said. “We want to make sure their decisions can be defended.”