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Andy Young, left, and Jim Nowacki

1st time in state history property owners get to quiz county assessors in public

Contributed By: The 411 News

Andy Young, Jim Nowacki and 180 landowners petition state to review property values in Lake County

Just the facts. No speeches. No politics for the August 10 hearing when property owners in Lake County will quiz the Lake County Assessor and Calumet Township Assessor in a public forum hosted by the Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance.

The hearing was put in motion when Andy Young, owner of 1,500 land parcels in Calumet Township, invoked the never before used statute IC 6-1.1-4-13.6(d) – Determination and Review of Land Values. The statute orders the DLGF to hold a hearing when 100 property owners in the county or 5% of the property owners in the county sign a petition requesting the review of the county’s land order.

For the purpose of funding and sustaining local governments and their operations, all Indiana counties publish a land order each year. It is a record establishing a value for each parcel of land in the county.

“I just want to be treated fairly. It’s unbelievable this rollercoaster history of property assessments in Calumet Township,” Young said.

Land values can be vexing enough to raise concerns for the owner of a single lot and more so for an owner with multiple parcels because they factor in determining property taxes. In Lake County, the assessor determines land values and the treasurer calculates the property taxes.

The petition requesting a review of the 2022 Lake County Land Order gained 180 signatures. The hearing will be held virtually.

Taxpayers who would like to provide testimony must submit a request to Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Thuma at The request must express an intent to testify at the hearing. This request must be received no later than noon EST on Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

Young and Jim Nowacki, another organizer of the petition and also land rich, don’t like the valuations on their lands and the resulting taxes. Many, if not all of their properties are in Gary and were purchased at county tax sales. If there is a structure on the land, it is likely in disrepair.

Their claim is the land valuations are incorrect and the taxes too high.

The Calumet Township Assessor ignored the most fundamental rule in determining land values, Young said. “A property in a forested area may have a base rate higher than a lot on a busy street with sidewalks and utilities.”

He blames the Lake County Assessor and the state for not exercising more oversight of Calumet Township land valuations.

Ed Gholson, deputy assessor for Calumet Township said he doesn’t know what will happen on August 10th because “the state has never done a land order hearing before.”

“We’ve submitted evidence-based assessments. Land values have been established for every neighborhood with ratings each year depending on sales,” Gholson said.

Gholson describes the hearing as an attempt by Young and Nowacki to avoid paying their property taxes. “I don’t mind land speculators if they pay their taxes. There are people who own just as many tax sale properties as Young and Nowacki, and they pay their taxes.”

Gholson said Nowacki hasn’t paid property taxes in 17 years. Young has paid some taxes, he said, but both have a history of filing bankruptcies and tax appeals. “It’s the administrative process that keeps the county from reclaiming the properties when taxes go unpaid. Young argues about paying taxes, yet he bought a parcel for $9,000 and sold it for $4 million.”

After listening to the petitioners and the assessors, the statute says, the DLGF can approve, modify, or deny the land valuations.

Story Posted:07/25/2022

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