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Posted on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 5:30 a.m.

Workshop for Ann Arbor area residents offers tips on how to appeal property tax assessments

By Ryan J. Stanton

State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, is inviting residents for the second year in a row to attend a special workshop to learn how to appeal their property tax assessments.


Mark Ouimet

The workshop takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District building at 1819 S. Wagner Road in Scio Township.

That's just west of Ann Arbor on the east side of Wagner Road between Scio Church Road and West Liberty Road.

Expected to join Ouimet at the meeting for the second year in a row is Republican state Rep. Tom McMillin, a certified public accountant and property tax expert.

"When we did this last year, we had about 150 people come out, and we'll probably expect about the same," Ouimet said.

"It's a good venue for people to ask questions about how assessors get to the level of evaluating someone's property, and then if you don't think it's correct, it gives you the opportunity to understand how you appeal it. So it's both educational and action-oriented if people don't feel good about what number they've been given."

No appointment is necessary. For more information, contact Ouimet toll free at 855-627-5052 or

In the coming days, area property owners are expected to receive their 2012 property assessment and taxable value notification letters in the mail. New assessments come out each year in early March.

Tom Crawford, Ann Arbor's chief financial officer, told the City Council at a recent meeting that property taxes are projected to come in $600,000 higher than expected this year.

Under state law, Michigan residents have the right to appeal their property tax assessments and make their case before a local board of review.

The Ann Arbor City Board of Review meets starting on Monday of the third week of March for a period of four days, and it's during that time that resident must appeal.

Members of the Board of Review are citizens appointed by the mayor, with City Council approval, and are not employees of the city.

Residents are required to first protest before the local board of review. If unsatisfied with the board's determination, they can appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

Residents who want to go the extra step have until July 31 to appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal, while business owners have until May 31.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Dog Guy

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

The Assessment on my Ann Arbor house went up about $5,000.00 this year. Hieftje and his 39 minions are busy raising every tax and fee and creating new ones. AAPS is scheduling another millage vote for when real people don't. But I am happy because I have lived on tax money for decades and, therefore, pay taxes with taxes. I shall not appeal this money-grab assessment because mine is not mine, but someone else's.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

I wish Mark would find a way to fight for all the Michigan jobs that have fled overseas. If we had jobs, then I don't think our property tax bills would be nearly as big of an issue.


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

I appealed our Ann Arbor property taxes 4 years ago...and the city made the SEV, Assessed, and taxable value the same: which does nothing to relieve tax burden as taxes STILL go up 3-5% per year without fail (as all values are equal). It wouldn't be so awful except that our paychecks aren't going up 3-5% every year, and everything else is getting more expensive all the time. Appealing the the tax-tribunal is a joke unless you have significant value involved (you have to pay to be processed by the tribunal, I think $400 bucks or more and they are backlogged by a year or more to boot).


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

I went to the Board of Review 2 years ago and they were gracious enough to lower my assessment to the price I paid to purchase the house on the open market. I was struck by this issue: if you have a larger house, it is worth the investment in an appraisal to get the valuation lowered. Since most homeowners get an adjustment down not up, then over time, the share of property taxes paid by the smallest homes will creep up as more expensive homes are adjusted down to market prices but smaller houses are not. In effect, property taxes get more regressive over time.


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Thank you Mark. And Stephen is right. The Board of Review is supposed to be there for US to have our opinion heard. The board has not been doing their job and the entire board should be sacked and replaced. As a broker, I have gone to the board for multiple properties for the past few years for myself and my clients. I have had them give me zero dollars relief more than once, only to greatly reduce the assessment when it was appealed to the state. In one case the assessor's office settled for a $100,000 reduction in value on a house (not a commercial property). The next year the board gave us another zero dollar change on a similar house around the corner. As a broker, I can manage the research and the state appeal myself, saving considerable costs for us, but the average homeowner cannot and must hire professionals. Ypsilanti is just as bad. And PS: I agree with Stephen on this issue (and others), but I don't think he should be using this comments section to run his campaign. What do you think readers?

Lac Court Orilles

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Please Mr. Quimet, hold a workshop on how I can appeal my unconstitutional pension tax that you voted for while I was already in the retirement pipeline so that I will have enough money to pay for my property taxes.


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

In this workshop each attendee will be trained in the process of "pounding sand" to prepare them for their appearance before the board of review.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

@Ryan: How many appeals are still pending in the Michigan Tax Tribunal related to properties in Ann Arbor? It's been my observation that the city's assessor over values many properties & that the Ann Arbor City Board of Review fails to be an effective watch dog protecting the citizens & doesn't reel him in when required. I can't talk publicly about experiences of the bank's customers so I'll relate a story about the bank's own experience. When we bought The Mansion on Washtenaw Avenue to use as our headquarters, we paid $1,700,000 & put $200,000 into renovations. We received an Assessment for about $2,400,000. We had to get an appraisal for our auditors & presented to the appeal board this MAI certified commercial appraisal which concluded that the property was worth $2,000,000. They ignored it two years in a row so while we were too busy & missed the deadline the first year, we hired a lawyer the second year & took them to the Michigan Tax Tribunal, which cost us $16,000 in legal fees. We settled with the city just before our court date for a new assessment that valued the property at about $2,100,000. Based on what I hear from our customers, this is a pretty typical experience, spending $5,000 for an appraisal & $16,000 on legal to reduce your property tax bill to close to what it ought to be. From my point of view the whole point of the effort by the city is to grind you down & make it hard to get a fair assessment. In my opinion, the current board members need to go! I believe that our Mayor, who since he is a Realtor ought to know better, should do a better job making appointments to the Ann Arbor City Board of Review, & the people serving there should be more willing to stand up to the assessor. The point of the board isn't about maximizing the city's revenue but about ensuring that people's property assessments aren't too high or too low, so that they pay the fair amount of tax that they are supposed to pay.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Wouldn't it raise more revenue to provide city services that make Ann Arbor a safe and pleasant place to live, thereby encouraging more people to move here, and more businesses to locate here to take advantage of the talent pool?


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

"The point of the board isn't about maximizing the city's revenue but about ensuring that people's property assessments aren't too high or too low, so that they pay the fair amount of tax that they are supposed to pay." I think the mayor and board should listen to you (but they wont...). Bec from my experience, the point of the board IS TO MAXIMIZE the city's revenues...

Jimmy McNulty

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

@Adam, congratulations on the new house. Just remember that the bank's and the tax assessor's motivations for assessment are different. The bank, who is loaning you money, will loan you money off the lowest assessment while the tax assessor, who is taking money from you, will see the highest assessment as the best fit. Not disparaging banks at all, they have to always take a worst-case scenario approach.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

I just bought my first house this month. I haven't gotten my tax assessment yet but of course the bank did an appraisal as part of the loan underwriting process so I suppose I'll at least have something to compare it to.