Post and stock photo (of a house that's probably over-assessed) by the Hawthorne Hawkman.
A lawsuit alleging that property tax assessments are unfairly calculated so that lower-income neighborhoods are paying more than their fair share has been dismissed on a technicality. A brief NXNS recap of links: the lawsuit documents can be found here, CURA mapped out where in Minneapolis people are paying assessments that are either more or less than market value, I posited that perhaps the key question is whether a post-foreclosure sale from a bank to an individual counts as a forced sale, and a Minneapolis assessor didn't answer that direct question.
So where does the lawsuit stand now? Well...
...the dismissal may actually be a good thing. If the plaintiffs had won the initial round, the ruling would be limited to just the years for which the plaintiffs were suing and would also be binding only to the parties bringing the action forward. Instead, what happened was that the judge tossed the suit largely on the grounds that the plaintiffs had prior opportunities to challenge the assessed value and did not do so.
The state Supreme Court's rulings though, are binding on everyone. From that perspective, the Supreme Court is actually a better forum for this argument to be heard. The whole point of the suit is to address what the plaintiffs attest are structural injustices inherent in the city's assessment process. If they prevail at the state, that will go a long way towards forcing appropriate changes in the city's tax structure.
(Or from the city's perspective, if the defendants win here, then it will validate their position that they've been doing it right all along.)
Either way, this has always been viewed as a two- or three-year process, with year one including an expected setback.