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    'Unconstitutional' assessment shifts: New statute causes drops in apartment valuations in Tippecanoe County

    By JACOB GUTWEIN Staff Reporter,

    2024-06-13
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3OKRNu_0tqIKBsr00

    Across the county five-plus multifamily housing, better known as apartment complexes, have seen significant changes in property valuations as a result of a new assessment statute, according to data provided by Tippecanoe County’s tax assessor Eric Grossman.

    For example, 211 E. State Street’s 389 apartment room building saw a 51.72% reduction in value from 2023 to 2024, dropping from $32.7 million to $21.5 million.

    Grossman is adamant these drops in apartment valuations are a tipping point of how assessment valuation subsidies ‘carve outs’ have resulted in unfair assessments that affect the way taxes are paid across property owners.

    Assessments are a property tax liability distribution based on estimated property value.

    In 2024, a state house bill was passed, and impartial changes to IC 6-.1-4-4.5 mandates that the “assessor shall use department cost schedules without modifiers, adjustments, or other trending factors” for multifamily property with more than five-plus units.

    “I cannot create uniform assessments due to several laws. And my main thing is the assessments are inherently unconstitutional,” Grossman said.

    Uniform assessments, meaning using fair, consistent, and proportional valuation methods, are a constitutional requirement in Indiana. The Indiana Constitution mandates a “uniform and equal rate of property assessment and taxation.”

    The well-known 1998 Supreme Court assessment case law Town of St. John V. State Board of Commissioners says “when comparing assessments to determine uniformity, an external unit or standard of measurement must be used, one which is objectively verifiable."

    Grossman said that the new statute mandating the use of a ‘department cost table’ isn’t objectively verifiable, and at the expense of single family rentals, duplexes, and three and four unit rentals, much like a feudal system where to receive favor you have to control a critical amount of service.

    “The idea of cookbook assessments, the idea that the state gives you a table and you circle a number off of it and use that number, regardless, that’s unconstitutional,” Grossman said.

    The new valuation subsidy will shift tax liability from apartment owners to owner occupied traditional houses.

    “These carve outs create bigger pieces of the pie for homeowners. You’re shouldering a bigger percentage of the public services, the police, the fire, the schools, roads, bridges,” he said.

    This is why he has encouraged homeowners, especially the apartment-dense West Lafayette School district to appeal their homeowners tax statements, which they can do until June 17.

    The West Lafayette School District, which took on the brunt of the cuts from the new assessments clause, has seen a loss of $63.3 million in assessed values, as five-plus unit multifamily housing comprises 35% of the area.

    By comparison, the Lafayette School Corporation district includes only 8% of multifamily housing, while multifamily units comprise only 11% of Tippecanoe School Corporation. These areas have actually had total assessed values increase by $59.7 million (LSC) and $41.8 million (TSC) due primarily to new housing construction, a 2024 report said.

    “I am encouraging people to file equity appeals on their 2024 assessments because a ‘market’ system that only applies to property owners without a lobbyist is a highly defunct, constitutionally invalid and unsustainable system,” Grossman said in response to an email sent by the Indiana Apartment Association, who lobbies.

    In an email sent by a lobbyist, the Indiana Apartment Association, an officer wrote to Grossman saying “The IAA put teeth in a statute,” meaning they would “fight to protect our assessment statute.”

    Representatives from the IAA have not responded to the Exponent’s attempts to contact them, and local legislators have been unavailable for comment.

    Since the onset of the pandemic, apartment assessments had gone up dramatically, and the recent changes could be a market correction; however, homeowners in the Greater Lafayette area are much more sensitive to a subsidy of this magnitude, along with the fact that Grossman believes it is an unconstitutional change.

    “We are very concerned about it. We are working with (Grossman) and the city of West Lafayette, and the county to address this,” Dennis Carson, Economic Development Director for Lafayette said.

    Grossman, who has informed the public of the assessment controversy throughout the spring, recently challenged the IAA to a debate. He hopes to bring the matter to the Indiana State Tax Court in 2025 with the help of a third party statistical firm or the Purdue Data Mine, but he isn’t the first assessor to call out the system.

    “Since the St. John litigation, there've been over 200 equity cases before the Indiana Tax court assessing equity, and they mostly fail. And they mostly fail due to a lack of statistical knowledge.” Grossman said, “However, I think we’re poised to try and take it on."

    Impact

    Tippecanoe School Corporation:

    Blackbird Farms Apartments 1710 McCormick Road (-686.69%) $10.8 to 1.3 million

    NP Fairway Tic 1 LLC Et AL 1304 Palmer Road (-363.90%) $11.6 to 2.5 million

    Bay Pointe Apartments 3101 New London (-99.69%) $8.1 to 4.1 million

    Casas Francisco J & LUZ E 2939 Horizon Drive (-178.56%) $667k to 239k

    Edward Rose of In 3086 Pheasant Run Dr (-50.31%) $28.5 to 19.0 million

    Provenance Apartments 1501 Mitch Daniels Blvd. (-61.75%) $29.4 to 18.2 million

    Lindberg Lofts LLC 2111 Lindberg Rd (-39.39%) $7.8 to 5.6 million

    Westridge - VOM Funding LLC 2919 Elite Ln (-61.75%) $29.4 to 18.2 million

    West Lafayette School Corporation:

    Madison Loft LLC 720 Northwestern Ave (-37.73%) 67.2 to 48,.8 million

    New Salem Courthouse 3005 Courthouse Drive (-72.15%) $20.6 to 12.0 million

    Hunter Village Properties LLC 3302 Peppermill Dr (-105.39%) $12.9 to 6.3 million

    Williamsburg on the Wabash 400 N. River Rd (-70.20%) $14.5 to 8.5 million

    SW Owner LLC 300 N Salisbury St (-116.30%) $7.4 to 3.4 million

    10 Owner LLC 440 S Grant St (-130.51%) $ 6.6 to 2.8 million

    Morris Rentals LLC 419 Vine St (-205.47%) $ 4.2 to 1.3 million

    BVCSF Wabash Landing 325 Brown St (-70.31%) $17.4 to 10.9 million

    RM Propco LLC 211 E State St. (-51.72%) $32.7 to 21.5 million

    Shen LLC 202 S River Rd (-168.34%) $ 5.87 to 2.19 million

    Lafayette School Corporation:

    WND-Lafayette LLC 217 N. 6th St. (-218.87%) $5.1 to 1.6 million

    McDonald Thomas A 1729 Main St. (-213.70%) $280k to 89k

    Bankers National LLC 1901 Union St (-117.96%) $3.2 to 1.4 million

    Treece Meadows LLC 904 Julia Ln (-106.41%) $7.9 to 3.8 million

    Cross Winds Apartments LLC 3782 Winston Dr $11.1 to 5.5 million

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