Mecklenburg County tax revaluation on review

Mecklenburg County tax revaluation on review

Mecklenburg County tax revaluation on review


by CARMEN CUSIDO / The Charlotte Observer

Posted on August 8, 2012 at 11:37 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With one meeting left Thursday seeking input from Mecklenburg County residents regarding the controversial 2011 revaluation, some themes that have emerged are complaints over access to data, land values and transparency.

Mecklenburg County in June sought proposals from firms to conduct an outside investigation into whether the county’s 2011 property revaluation was fair and complied with N.C. law. County commissioners in July voted to have Pearson’s Appraisal Service conduct a review that included public meetings, analysis of land sales and recommendations for future revaluations.

Emmett Curl with Pearson’s has said the firm’s roles include reviewing statutory requirements, including the process for notification of new values and the timelines for mailings and advertisements; and providing suggestions for future revaluations.

Residents at meetings have repeatedly brought up issues with customer service – for example, being able to talk to someone “face to face” when they were going through the informal appeals process – and that there was not enough transparency, Curl said.

The first three meetings seeking citizens’ input last week regarding the revaluation drew large crowds. Many residents said they could not afford to pay the higher taxes from their increased home valuations.

About 70 people attended the July 30 Matthews meeting, followed by about 170 people who turned out at the Cornelius meeting the following night. Last Thursday’s meeting at the Beatties Ford Branch Public Library drew less than two dozen people, but they were as vocal as the people who attended prior meetings.

Close to 20 people attended a meeting on Monday at the Government Center, and 76 people turned out for a meeting at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Senior Center on Tyvola Road Tuesday night.

The final meeting Thursday will be at the First Baptist Church West, 1801 Oaklawn Ave. from 7-9 p.m.

“It’s really nothing new, people have been out voicing their displeasure since they got their original valuations,” said Michael Osborne, a Cornelius resident who attended the meeting at the Beatties Ford Branch Public Library.

Osborne said he and his wife have a total of seven properties in Cornelius and Davidson – they rent six out of the seven, and live in a home in Cornelius. Of those, they’re appealing three properties – all in Cornelius.

Osborne’s concerns boil down to this: He said he does not think the assessed value of those three homes “accurately reflect the market values.”

As a whole, Osborne said they’re paying about $10,000 more a year in taxes for their multiple properties. They pay about $200 more a month in taxes for their personal property, he said.

Baxter Stegall, who was also at the Beatties Ford Road meeting, said his family-owned rental property company, Stegall Properties, has suffered as a result of the 2011 revaluations. He, too, believes his homes were “overvalued by a long shot.”

Between Stegall and his grandmother, he said they own nine homes on Matheson Avenue. After his personal home was revalued, his tax bill went from $715.13 in 2010 to $1,270 in 2011. His personal home, previously valued at $55,000, was revalued at $179,800.

Asked what he’d like to see happen as a result of the revaluation review, Stegall said: “Fix the process so it’s more realistic. These values are entirely too high. These are rental houses ... this is going to hurt tenants as well.”

The commissioners decided to pay $254,400 for the outside review of the revaluation after months of growing unhappiness from property owners over the job by Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander’s office in 2011 to update tax values for 355,307 Mecklenburg parcels.

Some property owners complained about how the county factored in the impact of foreclosures in some neighborhoods and how land values were assigned to some properties. The county has generally defended its work on the revaluation.

As of mid-July, the tax assessor’s office had heard more than 50,000 appeals of the revaluations.

Curl has said citizens’ hearings will be followed by an appraisal review conducted between August and October. During September and October, Pearson’s will conduct a statutory compliance review, Curl said. In November, a report will be delivered to county commissioners, and Pearson’s will again meet with citizens to talk about the review. Curl said everything Pearson’s collects regarding the Mecklenburg County 2011 revaluation will be included in a comprehensive report.