Cornelius wants audit on county tax revaluation
by Staff Writer
by Brian Carlton
CORNELIUS – Town officials want an outside auditor to look into Mecklenburg County’s latest property tax revaluation. Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution during their Monday, April 16, meeting calling for an audit of the tax assessor’s office and its practices.
The resolution states the revaluation was filled with errors and inconsistencies and lacked oversight.
In particular, town officials said they have an issue with how foreclosures factored into the revaluation. The tax assessor’s office applied a “stigma” to neighborhoods where foreclosures had an impact on the values of other homes. That dropped the property tax number in some cases anywhere from five to 40 percent.
Since a foreclosure doesn’t involve a willing seller, officials question how that could be used to help set fair market value for other properties.
“We’ve kind of fallen on deaf ears there,” Commissioner Lynette Rinker. “We have documented deviations from procedure. If nothing else, the county commission should be more than willing to open up, to prove they did it right. There’s a perception that there’s an issue.”
County Manager Harry Jones acknowledged in March that Mecklenburg County made mistakes in the revaluation, but felt overall it was fair. Cornelius commissioners said more needs to be done to address what they see as unfair taxation of residents.
“I think there’s areas we can prove there’s concentrations of errors that were done,” Commissioner David Gilroy said.
Residents also spoke at Monday’s meeting, stating that Mecklenburg County may admit mistakes, but isn’t doing anything to address the problem.
“Until they admit there’s something they can do, it’s going to be difficult to affect major change,” former commissioner Jim Bensman said. Bensman is part of a statewide group calling for possible changes to the Machinery Act, the state law regulating property revaluations.
Cornelius resident Bob Deaton cautioned commissioners not to expect anything from a state audit.
“You’re asking the fox to do an audit on his own henhouse,” Deaton said.