The Rockford Files

The Gales of November

“You’re probably not going to like this,” David Dale Johnson said, “but I’m suggesting we ask the Board of Review to reduce the assessment by $30,000.”  I had retained David as a hired gun in my attempt to get our house’s assessment, and thus our property taxes, lowered.  David knows a thing or two about the protest process: He spent eight years on the Winnebago County Board of Review and personally developed the form currently used to request a change in assessment.  When we purchased our current house eight years ago, I’d gone before David and the board and lost, though the state board of review reversed the local board’s decision.  In the intervening years, however, our assessment has crept up by $30,000, and it is time to try to bring it back in line with reality.

I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a little disheartening to learn that the reality is that our house is worth about what it was when we purchased it.  I’m from a generation whose parents believed that real estate was generally a solid investment, but if I’d wanted zero-percent returns, I could have put my money in Microsoft stock eight years ago instead of in a house.  But, as my wife likes to remind me about my comic-book collection, you don’t make any money on an investment until you’ve sold it, and we’re not going anywhere.  This house is truly our home,...

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