Clodfelter ad in Charlotte mayoral race blames Roberts for property reval

Dan Clodfelter and Jennifer Roberts before the start of their mayoral runoff debate, Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
Dan Clodfelter and Jennifer Roberts before the start of their mayoral runoff debate, Wednesday, September 30, 2015. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter’s campaign blamed Jennifer Roberts for the 2011 Mecklenburg property revaluation, which was widely considered botched and had to be re-done.

A mailer called the revaluation “the most flawed” in the county’s history and said it led to budget headaches at the city and county. It blamed the revaluation from happening while Roberts chaired the Mecklenburg County Commission, and it said she “ignored the red flags” for more than a year.

A Roberts campaign spokesperson, Jacob Becklund, said Roberts did a good job during the controversy over the revaluation.

“Jennifer Roberts showed real leadership by listening to the community’s concerns, responding quickly, and leading the effort to get more than $70 million dollars returned to taxpayers,” he said. “Dan Clodfelter is acting like a typical politician by attempting to distract voters with a disingenuous negative campaign because he knows that Jennifer’s positive message is resonating with Charlotte families.”

This year, Charlotte was planning its budget around patching an $18.1 million budget gap created when the General Assembly repealed the Business Privilege License tax. Then the city learned that the last phase of the county’s revaluation would cost the city $14 million that hadn’t been planned for.

The mailer said “Charlotte can’t afford more budget earthquakes.”

After the 2011 revaluation, the county received a flood of complaints from businesses and homeowners who said their new valuation was too high. Initially, the county – and Roberts – defended the process.

In May 2011, she said a new revaluation was not needed. She said it would be “counter to current state law, would cost taxpayers additional money, and would not support fairness in the assessment process.”

As complaints grew, she later voted for Pearson’s Appraisal Services to review the revaluation before she left the County Commission at the end of 2012.

During the revaluation at the end of 2014, Pearson’s told the county that it didn’t expect any significant changes in the value of county property. But the appraiser had left a large number of commercial properties until the end of the process, and those properties were valued significantly lower than expected.

That left the city with a surprise budget gap in early 2015.

Roberts and Clodfelter, both Democrats, face each other in a Tuesday run-off. The winner will complete against Republican Edwin Peacock in the November general election.

This is the second piece of mail that has questioned Roberts’s leadership. Clodfelter also said she cut school funding during her time on the commission, a charge Roberts said wasn’t true.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs