by Mike Parks
The Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor’s Office will not grant a special review of southern Mecklenburg property revaluations despite a request from some local homeowners.
The news comes after some residents pushed Charlotte council to ask the county for a special review of revaluations, akin to what many said was a special deal homeowners in Cornelius and the Lake Norman area were getting after their county commissioner pressed the tax assessor’s office.
But the tax assessor’s office says no special review is being granted to north Mecklenburg residents – they’re just following the same review process all county homeowners can go through. The only difference is the assessor’s office will consider new information brought to light at that north Mecklenburg meeting when considering revaluations from around Lake Norman.
“This is the same process that we’ve used in other areas of the county when inconsistencies have been brought to us,” said Cary Saul, Land Use & Environmental Services Department director, at a recent Mecklenburg County Commission meeting. “Every neighborhood was treated exactly the same,” he added later.
The assessor’s office says homeowners need to go through the established appeal process, where any homeowner can show evidence as to why their home’s reassessed value isn’t accurate, instead of holding a special review of some neighborhoods or starting over from scratch with revaluation as some have called for. The county got more than 41,000 appeals, which is about what they expected, and the review process is about halfway through, according to Saul.
Despite the assessor’s office’s reassurances at the county meeting, some residents say the county has more work to do.
“We disagree with the basic premise that this thing was done well,” said Jim Bensman, a Cornelius resident and voice for concerned homeowners in the area. “The county needs to come up with an action plan to fix this. To say that there’s no way to fix this isn’t true. There are ways that can be executed now to provide a fair opportunity for property owners to get a reasonable value placed on their home.”
At a recent county board meeting, the revaluation team again reiterated that they feel the revaluation process has been done fair and correctly, that north Mecklenburg is getting no special treatment and that the appeals process will go on as scheduled. The office also reminded the board that no “stigma adjustment” was used in the process. The assessor’s office had originally considered using an adjustment for neighborhoods where foreclosures made up 10 percent or more of the total homes in a neighborhood, such as had been done in at least one other city, but scratched that idea, according to Chuck Hicks of the assessor’s office. But that hasn’t stopped many people from pointing to consideration of such an adjustment as a sign of how unfair they feel the revaluation process was for homeowners in south Mecklenburg, where foreclosures haven’t hit as hard.
South Mecklenburg homeowners frustrated with the process are now left to consider their next move. A special task force has been established in Raleigh to look at the laws governing revaluations, but it could take months to make any changes to the process. Lawmakers could push to get another revaluation done next year, but there’s little point in pushing with a new revaluation if the task force hasn’t ruled on possible changes.
The assessor’s office acknowledged that there were some errors with the process, but urged homeowners to deal with those through the appeals process and bring any information they have to the review board to help their cause.
Find more information about the process at the assessor’s office website, http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/AssessorsOffice/reval/Pages/default.aspx.