Aledo may join with Mercer County to appeal Buttonwood Trails effort to have its valuation lowered

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
A portion of Buttonwood Trails subdivision in the fall of 2015.

The Aledo City Council reached a consensus Tuesday, Jan. 19,  to join with Mercer County or Mercer Township in an appeal of plans by Buttonwood Trails to appeal its tax assessment to the Property Tax Appeal Board.

The City Council on Dec. 7 decided to reach out to the Mercer County District 404 Board of Education as a partner in the appeal. The school district receives the largest share of property taxes.

"When we contacted the school district, (we learned) it has been their policy not to oppose property tax appeals," City Administrator Bob Mahrt told the council Tuesday.

"The township is in favor of appealing it," said Alderman Terry Bewley.

Mahrt said the city's portion of taxes from Buttonwood Trails would drop from about $6,000 a year to $3,600 if the east side subdivision is successful in getting its property taxes lowered.

The city on Jan. 11 received a copy of a letter from State's Attorney Greg McHugh to the Mercer County Board of Review.

In the letter, McHugh advised the Board of Review to obtain an extension to file evidence and argument, obtain committee or board approval to retain an auditor to review income figures, and the file an appeal "hopefully with City of Aledo based on both of our accountant figures and other value approaches for a fair assessed value."

McHugh also wrote that Buttonwood Trails valuation was reduced on March 2, 2015, from just more than $1.5 million to almost $681,000. Buttonwood now wants the total value evaluation dropped to just shy of $250,000 "based on an income value approach of $800,000.

"The law says we must consider income approach for low income housing assessment," McHugh said in the letter. "But the law does not say that is the sole consideration. Their appraiser did not even consider as a factor a cost approach nor a sales comparison. I believe that is an error which speaks against lowering the value of a brand new 42 house residential subdivision."

Mayor Chris Hagloch asked each board member if they wanted to partner with the county or township on an appeal of Buttonwood's tax appeal. A consensus was reached, although Alderman Mike Chausse said, "I'm disappointed about the school district but yes."

Hagloch wondered whether District 404 would join an appeal if the city partnered with the township and/or the county.

"They (District 404) don't want to pay for it (an appeal)," Chausse, an ag teacher at Mercer County High School, said.

Obtaining an extension to file evidence is crucial. Mahrt said "the deadline was the 28th of this month."

In other business, Alderman Ila Bertrand said the city is posting a job notice for an economic development coordinator. She said a job description is being developed in committee.