DAVIDSON – Over the next 18 months, a few Mecklenburg County homeowners will be getting a check in the mail reflecting a refund from their property value being calculated too high in 2011. But county assessor Ken Joyner reiterated to Davidson commissioners Jan. 14 that not every property will have a reassessment in the owners’ favor.
Joyner and employees of Pearson’s Appraisal Service, contracted by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, are relooking at each property to ensure its value was calculated as accurately as possible and that owners are paying the correct amount of taxes.
The property revaluation review is required by a North Carolina law passed last year in the wake of a contentious property assessment in 2011. During that time more than 40,000 residents bogged down the system to appeal their home’s projected value.
“There just wasn’t the type of response that the citizens expect, demand and should receive,” Joyner told Davidson commissioners during their meeting. “As the process went on, the citizens did not hear anything, the county was not responsive. Appeals were not worked so we ended up with a situation where a lot of citizen groups got together and really helped push the process to make a change.”
Joyner and Pearson’s were hired last fall to conduct the review by going over neighborhoods a chunk at a time and making new assessments. Items considered are property, market and neighborhood characteristics and property exceptions. Joyner explained they are using the same data that was relevant in 2011, rather than today’s numbers, which is why many houses will receive the same valuation as before despite a better economy.
To offer an open line of communication, Joyner said residents should be able to go to the county assessor’s website later this week and look up when their review is slated to take place. The project is expected to be complete in February 2015.
Results of the review could include lowering the property value and giving a refund with interest for every applicable tax year, keeping it the same or raising the valuation and sending bills for the additional tax. Joyner said through the process they have already found parcels that didn’t have buildings or characteristics about the property taken into consideration initially as they should have been. Of those receiving a refund so far, Joyner said the majority are less than $50. Only a handful have been more than $2,000.
Regardless of the review outcome, every property owner will receive a notice of the result and have the right to appeal.
By going to town board meetings and explaining the process, Joyner hopes people will better understand what is going on.
“We wanted to move away from talking about ‘Where’s my refund?’ which seemed the emphasis up front to making sure that everyone understands there won’t be refunds for everybody,” Joyner said.
“The county, in the background, we are starting our plan to see how we can handle the next revaluation with major emphasis being on response and customer service,” he added.
By law, reappraisals take place at least once every eight years for tax purposes to value properties at current market prices and make sure everyone is helping to cover the cost of government. Revaluation in Mecklenburg County must be completed again by 2019.