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Mecklenburg’s 2011 reval do-over to begin Sept. 18

Mecklenburg County’s do-over of the 2011 property revaluation will begin Sept. 18, and interim County Manager Bobbie Shields will ask commissioners Tuesday to release nearly $1 million to bolster the tax assessor’s office with 10 new appraisers and six other staffers.

The additions would boost the stable of appraisers by nearly a third – to 36 – and comes at a time when Mecklenburg is still digging out from under an error-plagued revaluation two years ago.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Shields, also the county’s interim tax assessor, will lay out a specific timeline for the redo. It began last week when Mecklenburg sent out a request for proposals from companies to review values set on all 356,000 parcels on Jan. 1, 2011.

Refunds to property owners overbilled in 2011 will begin by late October.

Based on Shields’ plan:

• The county will hire a new tax assessor on Sept. 3. Shields has stood in as interim since early December after former assessor Garrett Alexander resigned in the fallout from 2011.

The county was ready to hire a candidate in June, but he withdrew, saying the tax office was “too toxic.” Some commissioners expressed doubt that a candidate would be found by Sept. 3.

• The board will select a review company on Sept. 17. The redo will officially begin the next day, with parcels reviewed by neighborhood.

• Beginning in October, commissioners will make recommended changes on property abstracts and tax records each second Tuesday. The county manager (a new one could be hired in mid-October) also will notify affected property owners of the board’s decisions on corrected values on or before the 20th of each month.

• The county and municipalities will send refund checks by the end of each month, again starting in October. All property owners will have the right to appeal the new values.

Shields said Monday he doesn’t need the board’s vote to pursue the plan. Yet he will need the commissioners’ OK to hire 10 new appraisers for the tax office for $796,000.

Shields also wants to hire an administrative support supervisor and four assistants for administrative and customer service duty. They’ll be paid a total of $214,000.

“The implementation of the (the redo) will require dedicated administrative support … to allow for a high level of customer service,” he wrote in his request.

He’s also asking for a program information technology analyst at $52,000.

The bigger staff is necessary to carry out the next property revaluation, which the county must do by 2019.

Board Chairwoman Pat Cotham said Monday she thought the new hires should be made by the new assessor.

Shields said he believes they should be hired soon to get prepared for all the work ahead.

“It’s approved money,” Shields said. “We want to move ahead and get people in place so we can be ready to assist whatever company the board hires. But probably more important, we’re getting the office ready for the next revaluation. We want to make sure the records are straight and the right IT system is in place.”

The money was approved in the current budget, but commissioners placed it in “restricted contingency” for a later vote.

The added appraisers would improve the county’s ratio to one appraiser for 10,000 parcels, which Shields described as “best practice.” He said the extra staffing is critical to continue routine activities while resolving 2013 informal appeals and 2012 appeals to the Board of Equalization and Review, which would require some site visits.

In addition to helping with the 2011 revaluation redo, the office will also continue assisting in the ongoing review of neighborhoods found to have “major issues” by county-hired Pearson’s Appraisal Service.

After the review of 5,500 parcels is complete – probably soon – the staff will continue with field reviews of 60,000 remaining parcels, Shields said.

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061
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