Mecklenburg County commissioners this week approved the first round of refunds, or bills, for the ongoing review of the flawed 2011 revaluation required by state law that legislators approved in July.
In September, the board hired Pearson’s Appraisal Service of Wilson to conduct the review. To date, the firm has reviewed more than 60,000 of the county’s 356,000 parcels. Most of the neighborhoods reviewed so far have been along Lake Norman and in the Myers Park community.
The values of many those parcels, Pearson’s found, were inflated, and the owners will be eligible for refunds. Others were undervalued, and the law says the county can bill those property owners. Most values were unchanged.
The review has generated an assortment of questions from residents.
Wednesday, Observer reporter David Perlmutt interviewed new Mecklenburg assessor Ken Joyner and Fred Pearson of Pearson’s for answers, which were edited for brevity and clarity:
Q: How long will the revaluation review take?
Pearson: At present, the firm is reviewing 7,000 to 8,000 parcels a week, ahead of the 6,000-parcel weekly goal. Our goal is to review 25,000 parcels a month, which would allow us to complete field work by the end of 2014. Processing the data will lag about two months.
Q: Will all parcels in the county be reviewed?
Joyner: Yes. All 356,000 parcels, residential and commercial, will be reviewed. But as we have seen with the reviews that have already been done, not all parcels will receive a new value. Pearson’s looked at the same data and came to the same conclusion. The values for a parcel start at Jan. 1, 2011, and then values are set for January 2012 and 2013 – and 2014 if your property is reviewed next year.
Q: When can property owners whose parcels have already been reviewed expect a refund, or bill?
Joyner: For the values approved (Tuesday), notices will be mailed in the next couple of weeks letting property owners know what the value is. After property owners receive the notice, they have 30 days to appeal that value. If there is no appeal after 30 days, then refunds or bills could take up to another 45 days. So the whole process will take 65-75 days.
Q: Can all value changes be appealed?
Joyner: Yes, every value change is open for appeal.
Q: How many years will be refunded?
Joyner: It depends on when your neighborhood is reviewed. For those already reviewed, refunds, or bills, will come for 2011, 2012 and 2013. If your property is reviewed next year after tax bills go out in late summer, then you could be refunded, or billed, for that year too.
Q: Who gets the refund, or bill?
Joyner: If you paid the bill for 2011, you’ll get the refund, even if you don’t own the property anymore. There will be a number of parcels that will have changed hands, and possibly multiple times. If properties are found to be undervalued, the bill for those properties will go to current owners, even if they didn’t own the parcels in 2011.
Q: How can property owners keep up with the progress of the review?
Joyner: They can go to the tax assessor’s office homepage on the county’s website: charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/assessorsoffice. That page has a list of the neighborhoods where Pearson’s appraisers will be during the current week, and previous weeks. It also includes boxes to click that explain the review process, how appeals are made and refunds.
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