Surviving your property appeals nightmare with ECM

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Recent real estate shocks created a difficult situation across the country. Property valuations were suddenly out of sync with a depressed real estate market. With falling property values, assessors faced rising volumes of appeals at a time when they, like other departments, could not add staff to cope or were even facing reduced staffing.

In most states, property valuation appeals follow a formal process with response deadlines and document submissions at each stage and, often, a hearing to review. Comparable properties are identified, photos are submitted and correspondence goes back and forth. Missing legal deadlines means potentially having to accept the valuation proposed by the property owner, which may or may not be accurate. The revenue impacts could be significant.

The frightening reality

Managing an increase of transactions for any county department can be problematic, especially when the collecting, managing and routing of large volumes of documents is a manual process that relies on spreadsheets and paper. Here, a linear process begins solely by the arrival of new files on a desk. Staff members are forced to manage legal documents and timelines by creating their own systems to see how case files are progressing.

Assessors and department managers don’t have the kind of visibility they need, and the effort to maintain manual systems distracts staff from the actual work of reviewing cases and keeping them moving through the process.

To cope, many departments need to pay overtime to their remaining staff to meet deadlines and absorb the volume of cases that flow in once tax bills are out. This is a difficult pill to swallow, but the long-term funding of the county is at stake. Extra hours and manual systems seem like the only way to manage a bad situation.

Your dream scenario

The good news is enterprise content management (ECM) is starting to change this picture and lay the foundation for better constituent service. As a solution for short-term improvement and long-term government transformation, an ECM-based Assessment Appeals solution can change this picture.

Imagine a website where property owners submit an appeal with supporting documentation. They can return to this site to see the status of the appeal, provide additional documents or retrieve documents. As a part of this self-service portal, they can choose to receive updates on the review of their appeal via email.

Once submitted, their appeal is electronically routed based on the legal requirements. All documents are kept together in a virtual file – no filing is needed and no documents are lost. Using workflow automation, timers and notifications let staff know when new work has been received. Managers can see the status of all cases without manual systems or extra data entry.

The same seamless solution that presents a self-service option for your taxpayers eliminates paper, filing and tracking challenges – increasing speed and decreasing costs. Meanwhile, it empowers your staff with tools to ensure that documentation is complete and everyone is aware of approaching deadlines for cases under review.

Free from manual tasks, staff members focus on reviewing and resolving the appeals in front of them. With ECM and Assessment Appeals, status updates can be sent back to taxpayers, saving staff members time answering phone inquiries, which distracts them from processing the appeals.

If you are facing an appeals nightmare, consider the award-winning option of an ECM-based Assessment Appeals solution. It’s a real solution for efficiency and enhances the experience of your taxpayers as they move through your appeals process.

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Terri Jones, Hyland's government marketing portfolio manager, has your answer. In her 10 plus years in both state and local government, she's managed IT departments, implemented ECM strategies and written legislation and program policies. If that isn't enough to prove her IT expertise in government, she has also designed and implemented data systems and websites to manage compliance and funding in excess of $90 million annually. Have a question for her? Contact her at terri.jones@onbase.com.

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