CHARLESTON -- Opponents of a Coles County reassessment project have withdrawn their lawsuit against the county, which their attorney said was in a way that means it can be refiled.

The county state's attorney called the move "appropriate" and said it supports the county's position in the matter, however.

Mattoon business owners Rex Dukeman and Robb Perry filed the lawsuit last year in response to the county's reassessment of commercial and industrial property.

Dukeman and Perry are members of the Concerned Tax Payers of Coles County, a group that opposes the reassessment and frequently criticizes the Coles County Board and other officials on how it was conducted.

The lawsuit centered on one of the group's main contentions, that the hiring of appraiser Bob Becker to conduct the reassessment was illegal and the work should have been done by the county Supervisor of Assessment's Office.

Before the move to withdraw the case, a hearing on the county's motion to dismiss the lawsuit had been scheduled for Friday.

Attorney Todd Reardon, who represents Dukeman and Perry, said the withdrawal, called a "voluntary dismissal," generally takes place when the party filing such a suit needs more information.

"We have to look at all our options," he said. "There are definitely things that need to be looked at."

Reardon declined to elaborate on that but said the move leaves the option of refiling the case later. He said he didn't know yet if it would be refiled but that might not be possible had it been dismissed on the county's motion.

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State's Attorney Jesse Danley said the county's motion to dismiss "led the way to this end."

"It was appropriate," he said of the withdrawal. "We've maintained our position throughout."

Contacted Friday, Perry said "it's not over" because of the development but declined to elaborate, while Dukeman declined to comment.

The lawsuit asked that Becker's contract be voided based on the position that he wasn't legally allowed to conduct the reassessment.

Among the contentions in the county's motion to dismiss the case were that it did not claim any violation of rights and that it wasn't the appropriate way to oppose a property assessment issue.

The latest version of the lawsuit was filed in April after Circuit Judge Jonathan Braden dismissed the original case, a ruling based on the remedies the form of the case allowed. The judge allowed the refiling of the case using a different method.

The Concerned Tax Payers' legal challenges to the reassessment also included a federal lawsuit that was dismissed on a jurisdictional issue, a ruling upheld on appeal.

The reassessment has been a four-year project that, according to county officials, is near completion.

The county decided to do the reassessment because commercial and industrial property in the county had not received new values for taxing purposes since 2001.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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