DID YOUR PRELIMINARY PROPERTY TAX BILL GO UP?While local headlines SCREAM that Florida properties were devalued even more this year (did I hear 18%?), the property taxes, inexplicably, are going UP UP AND AWAY. Appeals to the county’s Value Adjustment Board by angry taxpayers for their 2009 property tax bills are expected to climb, perhaps by over 20% up from 13,200 appeals in 2008, challenging property assessments and homestead and tax exemption classifications. Petitions can be file online or in person at 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, until September 14th, and there is a $15 filing fee. For more information call the Clerk and Comptroller's office at (561) 355- 6289. The Clerks office says that while the increase in appeals may be due to the economic downturn, a state law has changed requiring the property appraisers office to prove their assessments are accurate. In the past the property owner had to prove the assessment was wrong. Special magistrates must be hired to settle disputes between property owners and the county property appraisers office. Responsibility for processing petitions and scheduling hearings lies with the Clerks office. Preliminary tax notices were mailed Friday to all county property owners.