Mecklenburg County commissioners are set to take up a motion Tuesday that supports refunds for property owners who were overbilled in 2011 and 2012 because of problems with the 2011 revaluation.
The county would need legislative authority to provide the refunds, but the motion isnt required to start the legislation.
It is mostly a statement to legislators.
Theyre going to do in Raleigh whatever the heck theyre going to do, said board Chair Pat Cotham, a Democrat, who put the motion written by Republican Commissioner Bill James on Tuesdays agenda. I want us to show that we want to be collaborative in the process.
And I want to force a little public talk among commissioners.
Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour, a Republican, said the motion would include the county in the legislative conversation.
Heres the reality of the situation: Legislation is going to come from Raleigh forcing us to act, Ridenhour emailed to other commissioners Monday. We can either get ahead of it, have some input, and show the community that we are being proactive or we can wait to be told from Raleigh what to do.
In addition to addressing refunds, the motion authorizes County Attorney Marvin Bethune to work with legislators drafting a bill.
The motion comes months after Pearsons Appraisal Service found dozens of major and minor inequity flaws among a 15 percent sample of the countys neighborhoods. In late November, the board hired Pearsons to survey the remaining neighborhoods, which began last month.
Pearsons has stressed that the inequities include properties that were undervalued. Those taxpayers could get higher tax bills.
The motion, as James wrote it, supports higher bills if required by law to make the legislation constitutional.
If its not required, he doesnt want those properties owners to be charged more taxes.
Legislators arent waiting for the motion to begin drafting a bill. State Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius and Rep. Bill Brawley of Matthews, both Republicans, have been at work on one for weeks.
Cotham said she felt the current motion has the votes to pass.
The debate Tuesday may be over who is entitled to a refund. Some commissioners have suggested refunds go only to taxpayers with major inequities who appealed their property reappraisal.
James said he wants it to go to all overbilled properties owners, whether they appealed or not.
So does Cotham.
Its a matter of fairness, she said. Everybody on your street may have been overcharged, but if only two appealed is it fair that theyre the only ones who get refunds? The others may have thought they didnt have a chance, or they didnt know how, or they didnt have a computer to appeal. Or they were tending to a sick child and didnt have the time.
They shouldnt be penalized again. How many times are we going to do something thats not fair to this person?