A small victory in the War of Revaluation
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Commissioner Chuck Travis has won a small-but-satisfying victory in what many Cornelius residents consider the 2011 Revaluation War.
Officials in the Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor’s office recently informed Travis they have lowered the new assessed value of his quarter-acre, unbuildable lot from $700,000 to $15,800.
When he built his home on the end of Belle Isle Drive on Lake Norman, Travis also bought the small lot just across the street so he had control of the land nearby. He paid $8,000 for the lot, and Cornelius zoning rules prevent him from building anything, even a dock leading into the water. He had suggested the value of the lot had risen to about $15,000.
The assessor’s office has acknowledged using $700,000 as “the base price” for land in The Peninsula, the high-end community that accounts for much of Cornelius’s lakefront property. Assessor officials said they were adjusting the assessed value of each lot “up or down based on individual size, location and other factors.”
Travis and fellow Belle Isle resident Bob Deaton have objected to the one-value-fits-all assumption that assessors began with. Deaton, who’s said the assessed value of his home increased 64 percent, has conducted a public campaign about the unfairness of the revaluation process.
Late last week, Deaton still has not heard from county assessors on his appeal, and Travis also had appealed the new value assigned to the land on which his home is built. Just like his small lot, assessors assigned a $700,000 value to the lot. Travis said he has recent sales data showing the land value is closer to $360,000.
At the Cornelius town board meeting Monday, June 20, Cornelius Finance Officer Jackie Huffman said county officials expect the process of hearing more than 40,000 appeals countywide will last through the end of the year.
So far, Travis told the Herald he’s only heard from one homeowner who has gotten an answer after appealing the new assessed value on a home. Prominent Davidson attorney Bob McIntosh said he lost his initial appeal.
McIntosh appealed the revaluation on the house he owns at 20261 Island Forest Drive in Cornelius. The county raised the assessed value from $294,300 to $522,500, a 77 percent increase.
“There’s no way that house could sell for that now,” McIntosh said this week. A neighbor across the street has been trying to sell a larger home on a larger lot for eight months and recently lowered the price to $399,000, McIntosh said.
“I think they’ve decided they are going to get this revenue, and they are going to get it from these lake people,” McIntosh said. “I feel they are going through and just saying, denied, denied, denied. I’ve got news for them … There are lots of for-sale signs out here.”
McIntosh objects equally to the county’s revaluation of the Davidson Cotton Mill, his commercial property near downtown Davidson. Assessors increased the appraised value from $3,879,200 to $5,280,000, a increase of $1.4 million or 36 percent.
Though he doesn’t think the new value is accurate in the current market, McIntosh said he and his partner have to decide if they want to spend thousands getting the commercial appraisal they would need to make an effective appeal.
“The message I’m getting is, ‘We’re going to get this money,’ ” McIntosh said.