First reval fixes show broad property value cuts

First reval fixes show broad property value cuts

First reval fixes show broad property value cuts

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by DAVID PERLMUTT / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 9 at 6:18 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The first batch of corrected 2011 property values were released Tuesday, showing nearly universal reductions in one neighborhood that could start seeing refunds by year’s end.

On Tuesday, Mecklenburg County commissioners approved value changes by county-hired Pearson’s Appraisal Service for dozens of properties in a portion of the Myers Park neighborhood.

Though only about 200 parcels were offered for the board’s approval, they provide a glimpse on how the redo will go, with many seeing small changes but some seeing dramatic swings. Pearson’s plans to complete the review by late 2014, said Fred Pearson of Pearson’s.

Most of the reviewed parcels were lowered by as little as $100. Some saw much larger reductions — $257,200 for the parcel at 316 Providence Rd, for example.

New Tax Assessor Ken Joyner, on the job for less than a week, said details for the refund process won’t be complete until next month. But most of those lower values will likely trigger a refund.

Pearson’s found several parcels had been undervalued. For instance, the value of the property at 2138 Colony Rd. was raised from $864,200 to $946,200 for 2011 – or a $92,000 value increase that likely will trigger a heftier tax bill.

Several more parcels remained unchanged.

“I felt good about what they told us,” said board Chair Pat Cotham. “We’ve got the things in place to get a better result. I think citizens are thinking that we finally got this under control.”

Pearson’s and the county’s tax office plan to review 6,000 parcels a week and 25,000 a month until all Mecklenburg’s 356,000 properties are reviewed.

State law forced the review after dozens of major flaws were discovered in the original revaluation, sparking a countywide protest by property owners.

In its review, Pearson’s recalculated values for 2011, 2012 and 2013. Some property values changed during the three-year span perhaps because of an addition during those years, or appraisers discovering improvements that had gone unrecorded, Joyner said.

Any refund, he said, will go to the property owner who paid the 2011 bill. Joyner said his office hasn’t worked out refunds to multiple owners of a single parcel, but hopes to have all refund details to the board in November.

Commissioners approve process

Commissioners hired Pearson’s last month to conduct the legislative-mandated “review” of Mecklenburg’s flawed 2011 revaluation.

The job is costing Mecklenburg an additional $3.4 million. County officials have said the tax base could take a $50 million hit.

Pearson’s, based in Wilson, was first hired by Mecklenburg in July 2012 after the revaluation more than two years ago triggered a flood of protests and appeals.

The company found dozens of major and minor flaws. That led to state legislation in July that requires the county to review, bu neighborhood, the values of each of Mecklenburg’s 356,000 parcels.

Pearson’s began the current review on Oct. 1. The law gives the county 18 months to conduct the review.

Tuesday, commissioners approved the review process. Under the timeline, commissioners will make recommended changes on property values the second Tuesday of each month. Then the county will notify affected property owners of the board’s decisions about corrected values on or before the 20th of each month.

Property owners will have 30 days to appeal. If there’s no appeal after that span, refunds or bills will be mailed.

Pearson’s will prepare all informal appeals to be heard by the local Board of Equalization and Review. Joyner said the assessor’s office has a plan in place to process appeals to the board, as well as the N.C. Property Tax Commission.

To improve customer service – found to be sadly lacking during the 2011 revaluation – Joyner has designated a team of staffers to field questions through emails or the tax office website and determine who should respond.

“Customer service is very high on my list of priorities,” Joyner told commissioners.

Any questions from customers will be responded within 24 hours, he said, even if they’re handed over to Pearson’s.

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