Locals challenge county on ‘unfair’ tax reval

Many homeowners have argued they could never sell their homes for what the county has valued them at in the recent property tax revaluation.

For Chuck Renner, the review of the 2011 property tax revaluation process in Mecklenburg County is a waste of time and money.

“I think this entire review process is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “It’s obvious that the results are unfair and they should be thrown out, regardless of whether what the county did was legal or not.”

Renner said his home in southern Mecklenburg was revalued 28 percent higher than the last revaluation in 2003. His mortgage company also disagreed with the new numbers produced for his home by the revaluation in 2011.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that my home is worth $295,000,” Renner said.

South Mecklenburg homeowners met with county commissioners and representatives from Pearson’s Appraisal Service on Monday, July 31, to discuss a review of a revaluation that left many paying higher property taxes.

So far, the Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor’s Office has heard 50,361 countywide appeals on a case-by-case basis.

At Monday’s meeting, residents like Renner were able to speak their minds about the review, which the county hired Pearson’s Appraisal Service to complete by November 2012.

“I think this is just a sham to give the county a liability shield by hiring a so-called independent firm to assess them and tell them they did nothing wrong legally,” Renner said. “I think the county ought to do what’s fair and throw out these obviously wrong results and have them redone.”

According to District 6 County Commissioner Bill James, it would cost an additional $10 million to have the 2011 revaluation rescinded and completed again. James represents the southern towns in Mecklenburg, as well as the Ballantyne area.

Emmett Curl, a representative of Pearson’s, began the meeting with a presentation outlining the plan and schedule for the review of the 2011 revaluation. The county is paying Pearson’s $250,000 to review the 2011 revaluation, and Pearson’s has been conducting revaluations for more than 30 years, according to Curl. They’ve worked in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, but the company has no prior history of working in Mecklenburg County.

Curl stressed that the review will not look at all property values during its four-month engagement, but will sample the county to determine values.

“This review will not function as another level of property value appeal, please understand that,” Curl said. “This will not rescind the 2011 reappraisal, but provide information for the future.”

The timeline for the Pearson’s review includes July and August citizens’ hearings, August and October appraisal reviews, September and October statutory compliance review and November findings and reports returned to county commissioners and final citizens’ hearings.

Curl said that Pearson’s officials would be seen locally at citizens’ hearings, visiting independent properties and in well-marked cars reviewing neighborhoods during the review process.

Everything Pearson’s collects during their review process will be in a comprehensive report given to the county commissioners at the conclusion of the review in November.

“Nothing will be held back, this is what we’re getting paid to do,” Curl said.

Residents followed Curl’s presentation with outraged comments and well-researched arguments concerning the 2011 revaluation and the Pearson’s review.

Wiley Brown, of Matthews, said he was thrown by the revaluation of his property.

“When I got my revaluation, frankly I was stunned, as most of you were,” he said. “I was about five times average.”

Linda Holton said the county only met her concerns with excuses.

“They said it’s a jurisdictional thing. They say it’s a historical thing; a political thing,” she said.

Holton said her property was revalued at a 50 percent higher value as a result of the 2011 revaluation, from $50,000 per acre to $100,000 per acre, along with an additional 25 percent upcharge.

“We find nothing the county has done to be proper,” Holton said. “The prime example of ignoring the principle of fair market value is when you go to the appeal, they tell you, ‘Do not cite to us the Machinery Act or fair market value.’ They don’t want to hear it.”

Renner was met with applause for his critique of the county-funded review.

“I can’t understand the point of paying anybody to do a so-called independent review of tax valuations when it’s impossible to be independent when the county’s paying for it,” Renner said.

For Renner, the review will only hurt the taxpayers, not benefit.

“We’ve already been told there’s no possible way that this is going to lead to the 2011 revaluation being rescinded, so what’s the point in doing the review? I don’t need to spend $250,000 of taxpayer money to know this is wrong. The reason so many people are here is because it was completely unfair. What you’re telling me is keeping $10 million is more important than doing what’s right and what’s fair to the taxpayers.”

The SouthPark-area meeting is Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. at the senior center at 2225 Tyvola Road.

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