Commissioners hold public hearing about revaluation

Thursday of last week, the McDowell County Commissioners held a public hearing about the upcoming revaluation of all properties in the county, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Each county in North Carolina is required by law to revalue all real property within its borders at least once every eight years. Some counties choose to revalue the properties more often eight years.

The 2019 revaluation will be the first one for McDowell since 2011.

As part of the process, the county commissioners had to hold a public hearing. That took place Thursday in the boardroom of the County Administration Building which drew a handful of people.

At the special meeting, the commissioners heard a presentation from Tim Cain, who is the project manager for the 2019 revaluation. He started his presentation with a quote from the McDowell County 2019 Schedule of Values, Standards and Rules: “The purpose of a general reappraisal is not to raise revenue but to equalize property values.” In other words, the idea is to make sure the county is getting revenue based on the most current and accurate property values, which can change over time.

Cain said the goals for the revaluation are simplification, accuracy, equity and transparency. For the simplification part, Cain and his team have created a typical McDowell County home for the reval: a 1,600-square-foot home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and is one story with vinyl or frame siding and a crawl space.

For the accuracy, every property sale since Jan. 1, 2015 has been examined with a greater emphasis placed on sales occurring this year.

For the equity, Cain said the reval will look at different neighborhoods in McDowell, the number of which has grown considerably in recent years. It will also look at different types of properties and compare high value ones with low value ones.

As for the transparency, the 2019 reval will include community and civic club presentations with specific information for those attending. All sales of property used in this reval will be made available to the taxpayers during the informal appeals process.

On Jan. 31, 2019, the notices of the new values with the informal appeal form will be mailed out to every property owner in McDowell.

The deadline for filing an informal appeal is March 15. During April 1 through May 6, the commissioners will meet as the Board of Equalization & Review to hear informal appeals.

By June 30 of next year, the commissioners will adopt a new county budget with a new property tax rate. In August, the tax bills will be mailed out, reflecting the new values.

After hearing his presentation, Commission Chairman David Walker started the public hearing.

David Oetjen and his wife Wendy, who are new residents of McDowell, asked about the process that goes into the reval and setting a property tax rate.

“What if you’re in new construction and you won’t be complete by mid-2019?” asked David Oetjen.

Cain said the percentage of how much has been completed by Jan. 1 will be used in the reval.

Commissioner Tony Brown said he would support a half-cent increase in the property tax rate so the taxpayers aren’t “shellshocked.”

Brown added McDowell has more county employees and they need to be paid more.

This year, the commissioners unanimously adopted the $42.6 million budget for 2018-2019 that calls for a property tax rate increase of 3.75 cents. This was done to help pay for some major projects and to make sure the county had enough revenue.

Cain added the tax rate increase was based on the 2011 values.

Walker said he favors doing the revals more often.

“Most counties are moving away from an eight-year reval and this board is going to do that too,” he said.

County Manager Ashley Wooten said the public will be able to appeal, if they feel the new values are not accurate or just.

“If folks have concerns, we will set up all kinds of opportunities to appeal,” he said, adding people can call, email or meet in person.

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