CHARLESTON — An appeal is planned on the dismissal of a lawsuit against a county property value reassessment project, as the criticism of the effort reached the one-year mark, the Coles County Board was told at its regular meeting.
James DiNaso of the Concerned Taxpayers of Coles County also told the board on Tuesday that the group plans a second lawsuit covering the latest phase of the reassessment.
"The current lawsuit is far from being over," DiNaso said. He also vowed "lawsuit after lawsuit" if the reassessment project continues.
The case stems from a dispute between the Concerned Taxpayers and the county that started with the reassessment of commercial and industrial property in Mattoon Township. The lawsuit's contention was the approach violated equal protection requirements of the U.S. Constitution.
With the project now in its next stage, DiNaso said the group has similar plans to oppose the recently completed reassessment of Charleston Township's business property.
The project started because the county's commercial and industrial property hadn't received new values for taxing purposes since 2001. The plan divided the county into four sections with one reassessed each year.
The complaints and criticism began in December last year, shortly after Mattoon Township business owners received notices of their new property values. That since evolved into a more organized opposition that included the lawsuit.
Concerned Taxpayers member Robb Perry also said the group will appeal the lawsuit's dismissal and read a statement from the group's attorney that criticized the federal judge's decision.
It said state courts don't allow for the kind of legal remedy the group is seeking, namely an injunction halting the reassessment.
Before filing the lawsuit, the group thought there might be a way "to try to find a way to mend the fence" but now feels "the taxpayers don't mean anything to the board," Perry said.
For the most part, board members didn't respond to the comments. However, two of them did say they questioned the new assessment figures for their own property in Charleston Township.
When he asked if anyone on the board owned business property in Charleston Township, member Jan Eads said her property's value increased 96 percent.
Member Brandon Bell said his property also saw a "higher than expected" increase and he plans to appeal the new assessment to the county Board of Review.
"But after 16 years, you're going to expect some of these numbers to jump up," he said.