Mecklenburg County will send out a call Wednesday for proposals from firms to conduct an outside investigation into whether the county’s 2011 property revaluation was fair and complied with N.C. law.
County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the scope of the independent review, directing County Manager Harry Jones to recommend a firm by its July 3 meeting.
It comes after months of growing unhappiness – again raised at Tuesday’s meeting – over the job by Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander’s office in 2011to update tax values for 355,307 Mecklenburg parcels. Eleven percent of the reappraisals were appealed, but many residents said they didn’t understand the appeals process and deadlines, and ultimately didn’t contest their new values.
What began as a small-scale protest from property owners in the Cornelius/Lake Norman area spread through the county, including residents in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood, with many homeowners arguing that their reappraisals were excessively over-valued and that the process could be illegal because it doesn’t follow state law.
That’s what commissioners are asking the outside investigation to determine.
They’re also asking the reviewer to:
• Identify areas of non-compliance with state law.
• Develop corrective measures to address any areas of non-compliance.
• Find areas where county staff may have used legal individual discretion.
• Recommend how the county or state law could be amended to eliminate or reduce discrepancies between fair market and tax-assessed valuations in future reappraisals.
Whoever is hired must get public input, Cary Saul, director of the county’s Land Use & Environmental Services Agency.
Links to meetings at which residents presented concerns will be on the county’s website for applicants to view.
The applicants will have until June 25 to submit proposals.
Leaders of the Cornelius and Myers Park groups told the Observer this week that the review is a good start.
Yet even before a reviewer is selected, they said they want homeowners knowledgeable about audits to be included on the Citizens Revaluation Advisory Committee so they can play a part in reviewing the review. Staff writer Carmen Cusido contributed.