This February, The Tricycle Collective gathered members and friends to partake in the civic act of requesting a property reassessment by the City of Detroit. Chronically overvalued properties lead to higher taxes which exacerbate delinquencies and foreclosures, and we hoped to address the problem at its root with fair assessments.
The process has largely been a failure.
Of those who reassessed their property assessments during the teenie-tiny 2 weeks-of-the-year window, none of us has received a different assessment. If an initial reassessment is not satisfactory (as ours weren’t) then the homeowner can re-request their assessed value, which requires a written letter in another even smaller window of time, which is met with a non-negotiable court date appearance issued days in advance. Inevitably, most of us will not be able to meet our court appearances, and the default judgement will be in favor of the city and the current assessment will stand.
The ones who can and will meet their reassessments are those who need it least– people who can afford lawyers to file and refile and petition on their behalf, all through the absurd process. Its just not worth the time of most low-income families to pay huge parking fares to waste their times through another dead-end process.
To many, the presence of procedure, order and justice is even more frustrating than the elevated taxes. Fortunately, no one was under any illusions that this would be a guaranteed process, or a simple one, but it’s truly disheartening that someone who’s property is assessed at two or three times its true value cannot get recourse.
The city is under its own form of financial strain, understandably, but it cannot be whole if it tries to grow on the backs of its citizens.
If you have a success story of the tax reassessment process, please share!