More than 400 Carroll home owners appealed their 1991 property tax assessments in the final days before last month's filing deadline, pushing the total number of appeals 27 percent above the number filed last year.

Following what assessment officials called a typical last-minute surge, 1,402 northwest Carroll home owners had appealed theirassessments. That number, the highest recorded here in the last 10 years, is 295 more than the 1,107 appeals in 1990. Home owners filed 417 appeals in the final two days before the Jan. 24 deadline.

"Usually, a lot of people wait until the end, just like with their taxes," said Lou Norris, assistant supervisor in the Carroll Countyoffice of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation. "We usually have a last-minute push."

The last-minute push means that Carroll recorded the metropolitan region's third-highest percentage increase in assessment appeals. Anne Arundel County registered a 105 percent increase over 1990, and Howard County saw a 42 percent increase.

Overall, Carroll's total of 1,402 assessment appeals was the lowestin the five metro counties.

In some counties -- Anne Arundel and Howard, for example -- major taxpayer protests accounted for much of the increase in appeals. In Baltimore County, where a late fall push by tax reformers urged home owners to file appeals as a form of protest, the number of appeals dropped by 9 percent.

No tax protest movement surfaced this year in Carroll. Norris said that he could not explain why the number of appeals this year was higher than in 1990.

About 16,000 home owners north and west of Westminster received new assessments this year. Those assessments, records show, increased an average of 35 percent over 1987, the last time they were appraised.

For the 16,000 eastern Carroll homeowners who received assessments in 1989, the average increase in value was about 45 percent.

And while Norris could not explain the 27 percent increase, a state Assessments Office official said that it could be the result of tax protestmovements in other counties.

"There has been a lot of focus on the assessment process in other counties," said Henry Riley, the department's assistant director.

Overall, 60,281 appeals were filed in Maryland in 1991, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. That amounts to about 9.6 percent of the 627,000 assessments mailed to homeowners last year. For 1990, the 55,938 appeals amounted to about 8.8percent of the 612,000 statewide assessments.

(The State PropertyTax Assessment Appeals Board provided incorrect numbers of appeals for a Jan. 23 Carroll County Sun article.)

Riley said that while taxpayers may think the assessment process is meant to increase their taxes, appeals as a form of protest usually do little to change things.

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