CORNELIUS N.C. Sen.-elect Jeff Tarte told Cornelius/Lake Norman property owners on Wednesday that hell work with other lawmakers on special legislation next year to enable Mecklenburg County to redo its much-maligned 2011 revaluation.
I cant tell you definitively if we can fix this problem, but Ive been told by other legislators we ought to be able to do it, Tarte, the outgoing Cornelius mayor, said in a brief interview. Our intent is to remedy the situation and empower the county to do the right thing and fix the problems found in the revaluation. I cant imagine a scenario that would not include a complete redo of the 2011 revaluation.
Tarte, a Republican, spoke to loud cheers from the crowd at Cornelius Town Hall. They had gathered to hear Emmett Curl, a project manager for Pearsons Appraisal Service, explain preliminary findings and recommendation from its county-hired review of the revaluation.
For 1 1/2 years, residents have pleaded with commissioners to redo the 2011 revaluation, saying their properties were overly inflated and that the county tax assessors office hadnt followed state law.
Short of a redo, they asked an outside firm be brought in to study the revaluation for accuracy and compliance with N.C. law.
County commissioners chose to bring in Pearsons.
Wednesday was the second of six hearings Pearsons is scheduled to hold in each commission district.
Curl knew hed come to the district where the protest began, joking he had a body guard stationed in the back. He spent most of the two hours presenting findings and recommendations that hed delivered to commissioners on Tuesday.
Overall, Pearsons found the revaluation to be acceptable triggering befuddlement from many homeowners, including those in Cornelius/Lake Norman. He said the revaluation complied with state law.
But of the 52 Mecklenburg neighborhoods with the fastest-rising values, the study showed 20 had serious problems. They found another 18 with minor flaws.
The firm also reviewed 151 randomly picked neighborhoods and found that 49 had at least minor problems and 15 of them had major ones. Curl emphasized that the properties could have been under-valued, as well as overvalued, when compared to other properties in a neighborhood.
The problems, Curl said, were concentrated mostly in older, heterogenous neighborhoods.
Bill Sykes of Cornelius asked Curl if he thought the revaluation was completely flawed based on the amount of problems the study found.
To that question and others, Curl said his job was only to disclose the information found in Pearsons study.
In an interview, Sykes said he felt the entire process is flawed by virtue of the fact they found a great percentage of the sample is flawed.
He said the county needs to bring in outside appraisers using a bid process to revalue every property identified (in the Pearsons study) and maybe across the board for the year 2011.
Thats the only fair thing to do, he said.
Commissioners and County Manger Harry Jones have long said that whatever the study finds, it wont trigger another revaluation for 2011. But the studys findings will be used as a guidepost for future revaluations.
Theyve said theyd need permission from the legislature to conduct a second reappraisal.
Tarte, elected Nov. 6 to represent the newly created Senate District 41, said he and other Mecklenburg legislators are ready to get it for them.
It will be the first piece of legislation I work on, Tarte said. With so many errors found by the Pearsons study, the only way to ensure fairness and completeness with all residents is to do the whole thing over. When thats established for 2011, then your tax value will be known and if youve overpaid, youre entitled to a refund for each tax year.
Its just the right thing to do based on the information at hand.
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