MATTHEWS – Matthews residents living along Weddington Road may have seen a vehicle driving slowly through their neighborhood last week, but it wasn’t a thief looking for an easy crime. It was the county, continuing its efforts to fix the flawed 2011 property tax revaluation.
The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners appointed Pearson’s Appraisal Service to review the revaluation after numerous homeowners complained about their property taxes increasing despite the recession. Officials with the service, as well as with the county, have been visiting neighborhoods across the county to judge if the individual reviews were done correctly, and already have found many with minor and major flaws.
Pearson’s found nearly 50 neighborhoods with either minor or major errors in the original review of randomly selected neighborhoods, noting those numbers came from a sample size of roughly 15 percent of the properties included in the revaluation. Of those 50 neighborhoods, a number were in Matthews and Mint Hill. An additional 52 neighborhoods were reviewed that saw the largest increase in taxes, with nearly 40 seeing minor or major problems.
Neighborhoods from both categories with major problems included Wilson Woods, Providence Plantation and the Crownpoint office area.
Neighborhoods with minor problems included Ellington Farms, Glencroft and the Sardis Road North area.
While property owners who saw flawed revaluations will receive reimbursement for the difference in their taxes, the county will soon have to do a revaluation “redo” and then an additional revaluation after local legislators – including N.C. Sen. Jeff Tarte, who represents the Matthews-Mint Hill area as well as north Mecklenburg – pushed through a new state law requiring both be done.
“It’s on track right now, hopefully it will stay there,” Tarte said about work fixing the 2011 revaluation. Tarte said he is especially pleased that Mecklenburg County hired Ken Joyner as the new tax assessor, since Joyner and Tarte worked together as legislators were crafting the revaluation bill while Joyner was with the University of North Carolina School of Government.
“It was a spectacular choice,” Tarte said of the hire. “Because of that, I am almost to the point of exuberance. I really believe there is someone in there that understands.”
Tarte said the next job for legislators on the issue will be “modernizing” the state’s Machinery Act, which dictates revaluations. One change Tarte wants to see is something that makes it easier for homeowners to demonstrate the value of their property when challenging their specific revaluation. Currently, counties don’t have to accept some certified appraisals that homeowners obtain themselves.
“We want to make sure the county and those bodies (such as tax assessors offices and review boards) have to accept that, then the burden of proof (to prove a property’s value) shifts to the county.”
Tarte said the issue could be addressed during the General Assembly’s short session in May.
Homeowners can keep track of the revaluation review process, as well as see what neighborhoods will be reviewed each week, at the county’s tax assessor’s office website, http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/assessorsoffice.
Joyner spoke with Mint Hill leaders in November, telling them their neighborhoods won’t be reviewed until the spring.