Summit County is warning property owners to be wary of companies offering to help them with tax appeals.


ValueAppeal LLC of Seattle has mailed letters to area residents stating the county might have made an error in computing their property taxes and that they could be overpaying by thousands of dollars. The mailing tells people the company can develop a custom report for $99.


Property owners can do the research offered on their own and can file an appeal for free through the county board of revision, county Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise said.


“Even if they buy this appeal kit, they are still going to have to go through my board of revision,” she said. “They are still going to have to go through the same process, and they are going to be out $100 to this company.”


The Plain Dealer last week reported a similar warning from Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer Wade Steen. Property owners there have received offers from ValueAppeal and Tax Compliance Services LLC of Cleveland, the newspaper said.


ValueAppeal could not be reached for comment.


Homeowners should read any mailed offer carefully and research first before hiring a company, said Cynthia Sich, consumer affairs director for Summit County.


“What appears to be a deal may not be a deal,” she said.


The county completed a three-year reappraisal last year. Property owners who are unhappy with their values can appeal to the board of revision through March 31.


Appeals typically increase after a countywide reappraisal, Scalise said.


More than 4,100 property owners appealed to the board in 2009. Last year, 2,765 appeals were filed. Appeals can be made by calling 330-643-2631 or visiting http://?fiscaloffice.summitoh.net/index.php/board-of-revision-complaint.


Countywide, residential and agricultural property values dropped 7.9 percent, or $2.1 billion, from last year.


Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.