County assessor hosts property tax seminar

CENTRAL GLENDALE — With property values continuing to take a beating, more than 50 homeowners gathered at the Glendale Central Library Wednesday to learn about reducing their county tax bills.

Many of the people were in the same boat as Los Angeles resident David Kerr, who bought his home four years ago and has since seen its value drop with the recession. Even so, he continues to pay taxes on the high purchase price because he hasn’t reassessed the property to the current fair market value. And as if high property taxes weren’t enough, Kerr said taxes have increased 2% every year.

“I am paying an incredible amount,” he said.

Paying the high property taxes wouldn’t be such a challenge if the economy was stable and work was steady, but that hasn’t been the case and he said he’s struggled to pay his $350-per-month tax bill.

He uses his credit cards to pay for the taxes, he said, which carries an additional 2% fee. His predicament is what spurred him and others to attend the seminar, which was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board. Officials put the event on to disseminate details on the board’s hearing process for home values.

The board has receiving numerous questions from homeowners about lowering their property taxes and many of them don’t know how the appeal process works, said Valerie Rice, the board’s clerk.

Filing a decline in value application with the county assessor’s office is less complicated than appealing a property valuation, officials said. Applicants generally have to show the value of at least two comparable real properties near their homes.

For the appeals hearing, applicants must file between July 2 and Nov. 30; show sales records of comparable properties and new construction values; and get a private appraiser to assess their home.

The county assessor generally looks at the property and date of the decline in value, change in ownership and the completion of new construction.

El Sereno resident Sebastian Ventura, who owns a four-unit apartment building in Los Angeles, said he pays about $8,200 in taxes each year and was concerned about his ability to keep up with rate increases.

“The property is losing value, but the taxes keep going up,” he said. “How can they expect us to pay?”

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