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Mecklenburg officials: Beware of ‘deceptive’ letter promising lower property taxes

Mecklenburg County officials are warning residents about a letter from a company vowing to lower property taxes.

In an email, County Manager Dena Diorio told commissioners and staff members that the assessor’s office discovered a “deceptive business letter” sent to a homeowner who experienced a property tax increase after the county’s revaluation.

It’s fearmongering.

Ken Joyner, Mecklenburg County tax assessor

The letter, sent to a Dilworth resident, claims his property taxes would likely increase. It offers to help lower his $6,606 “tax burden.” A search of Mecklenburg County property records show the homeowner’s tax is more than $1,400 lower than what the company claims.

“It’s fearmongering...the terms in there are meant to scare someone,” said County Tax Assessor Ken Joyner. “If you didn’t ask for contact with a company, always be leery of someone who contacts you.”

The company behind the letter is the Fort Mill-based Carolina Property Consultants, a subsidiary of American Property Consultants, which offers to lower property owners’ tax bills by using comparable sales to determine the fair market value of the property. According to the company website, customers agree to pay a $300 processing fee and give the firm 35 percent of their tax savings. A tax reduction is not guaranteed, the company says.

Jerry Spearman, company president, said it’s possible the letter contained mistakes but he denies trying to mislead property owners. He said the tax assessor’s office is likely upset because his company encourages residents to appeal their property tax bills. He said he marketed his offer to residents of Dilworth based on property values.

The fact that they’re receiving 35 percent of the savings gives them a vested interest in the lowering of the value.

Joyner

The county’s deadline to appeal the bills was in May. County officials say what the company is offering amounts to an appraisal. Spearman on his web site says the company’s is not performing appraisals. State law requires appraisers to evaluate property values without any financial stake in the outcome.

“The fact that they’re receiving 35 percent of the savings gives them a vested interest in the lowering of the value,” Joyner said.

Joyner said he’s contacted the N.C. Appraisal Board, which Joyner said could ask the company to stop sending letters to Mecklenburg County property owners. An attorney with the board declined to comment.

Mecklenburg County residents who want to evaluate their property tax assessments can use the county’s revaluation review web application here.

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