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Assessor appeals property values

Hyde’s 5% trim challenged; county can still file complaint by Emily Walkenhorst | December 11, 2015 at 3:55 a.m.

Pulaski County Assessor Janet Troutman Ward filed an appeal in circuit court Thursday over County Judge Barry Hyde's decision to lower by 5 percent the values of seven properties near a Jacksonville shooting range.

"She felt that the value they had on was fair market value," said Pulaski County Attorney Amanda Mitchell, who filed the appeal on Ward's behalf in Pulaski County Circuit Court. The county has another 30 days to file a formal complaint, Mitchell said.

In August, seven homeowners in Foxwood Estates appealed the appraisals of their homes to the county's Board of Equalization, which can confirm the appraisals or change them.

The board confirmed the appraisals of their homes, while lowering by 30 percent the appraisals of undeveloped properties in the same neighborhood.

Seeking lower property valuations, the homeowners appealed the board's decision to county court, which is presided over by Hyde.

In a Nov. 10 ruling, Hyde lowered the property values by 5 percent and noted that he additionally disagreed with the 30 percent drop in undeveloped property values but could not lower those because they were not being appealed.

"Our house is for sale, and we're not going to get rid of it," said Sharon Johnson, one of the property owners.

She and her husband, Terry, built their house in the gated neighborhood in 2011 as a "retirement home." Now, a year after the shooting range opened less than a mile from their home, they're looking to sell it because of the noise.

The Jacksonville Shooting Sports Range at 2800 Graham Road operates from 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. until dusk Wednesdays through Sundays. The homes involved in the appeal are at the southern end of the Holland Bottoms State Wildlife Management Area.

Terry Johnson is a retired military member and has insurance through the U.S. Automobile Association, which asked the Johnsons to seek a lower property valuation.

The Johnsons' home was appraised at $448,600, then Hyde lowered the value to $426,170.

Based on 2014 millage rates collected in 2015, the Johnsons' property tax bill on the home would be reduced from $4,844.88 to $4,602.64.

The Johnsons' case has been assigned to 9th Division Circuit Judge Mary McGowan's court.

They join six other sets of property owners -- Dejuana and Gary Sipes, Karen and Phillip Carlisle, Donna and Brian Hagewood, Taylor and Jerry McGrew, Yvonne and Narzell Davenport, and Frank G. Swift Jr. -- whose cases are now before four additional circuit court judges.

Phillip Carlisle said he actually helped bring the gun range into town through his involvement with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program. He said he had hoped that it would be located on the fairgrounds outside of town, but it wasn't.

"You typically don't put gun ranges within city limits, within a mile of homes," he said.

Although Carlisle is appealing his property appraisal, he said he's not looking to sell. He's fearful of the loss he might experience.

"Believe me, if someone said they wanted to buy our house, I would sell it in a minute," he said.

The assessor's office does not automatically appeal rulings made by the county judge that alter their appraisals, Mitchell said.

In this case, Mitchell said, the office did not believe the change was proper or reflected fair market value as required by law.

"It's happened several times over the 20 years that I've been here," Mitchell said, referring to appealing county court decisions in circuit court. "It's not every year, either."

Metro on 12/11/2015

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