Spafford: Resident sheds light on error

"The burden of proof is on you," Lesch-VonRandall said, adding that evidence in property owners' favor could include the recent sale of a comparable property, a professional independent appraisal or recent bank appraisal.

"If you've got good evidence I would say go on to the next step," he said.

Some residents argued that they went to the Board of Assessment Review with information and were treated rudely or told the information could not be used to argue their case.

Several residents proceeded with having an independent appraiser reassess their homes after the town had already paid Larry Fitts of Fitts Appraisal Company out of Homer to complete the revaluation.

One appraiser many residents called was Walter Copeland, of Copeland and Copeland Inc., who is not only a state certified appraiser but also a resident of Spafford. Copeland was not immune to his own issues with the reassessment.

Copeland said his property has been built within the last three years, he paid a contractor to build it and knows what he paid. He also had a separate garage built after the house was finished, which he built for $33,000.

When Fitts did the reassessment, Copeland's home and property was revalued at a quarter million more than what he had built it for. The garage alone had jumped in value to $70,000 under Fitts' appraisal.

Copeland said he hired an appraiser to come out and found the cost of the garage to be $31,000.

"I finally called Larry and asked, 'Where did you get your cost approach?'" Copeland said, adding that Fitts explained to him that he plugged the numbers in that he needed to and the number was automatically generated for him.

Since appraisers use the same data source throughout the nation, Copeland said he couldn't figure out how the assessor was coming up with a value $250,000 more than what the house was built for two years prior to the assessment period.

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