ANDERSON, Ind. —
The two challengers in the Madison County assessor’s race — Republican Larry Davis and independent candidate Linda Smith — stressed that change was needed for the county to move forward. Both have never worked in the assessor’s office but said they have worked closely with the office and have seen weaknesses that need addressed.
The current assessor — Democrat Cheryl Heath — didn’t return phone messages Monday and Tuesday and was out of the office on Wednesday.
Davis said he is the only candidate who is a licensed tax representative for homeowners and businesses. In that capacity he represents people before the property tax board of appeals as well as the Indiana board of appeals. He is also level 1 and 2 certified assessor and appraiser, passing both exams at 100 percent. Davis has owned Hoosier Property Tax Consulting and Appeals for a year where he said he fights to reduce unfair assessments.
Before opening the business, Davis said he has been involved in real estate buying and managing investment properties.
Important issues in the race
“I have seen so many problems in the assessor’s office and not just this year but it has happened over the last several years, and these problems have affected people’s lives,” Davis said. “Someone’s home or business is the largest investment they’ll make. And what I’ve seen is people being taxed at a very high rate and done so unlawfully.”
Davis said full payment of tax bills for two different years was required in 2009. He also said the Department of Local Government Finance in Nov. 2007 threatened to initiate a process to revoke Heath’s assessor certification for failure to provide timely data sets.
“When you have 5,000 properties on tax sale, it is because the assessor’s office has not met the statutory guidelines,” Davis said. “We received three years of payments in a 16-month period and many of them were inaccurate. All of that created undue hardships on people, and their properties are now up for tax sale because of non-payment.”
In 2008, tax bills payable in 2009 charged property owners who did not have a homestead exemption, mostly in Richland Township, 3.5 percent instead of 2.5 percent as instructed by law, Davis alleged. For 2009 tax bills payable in 2010, more than 8,000 properties in the county were charged at a rate of 3 percent instead of the legal rate of 2 percent, he said. Davis claimed that error represents an overcharge of more than $4 million.