Around the end of this month, all of the homeowners, landowners and commercial property owners in McDowell County will receive the notices about their new values. That’s because of the 2019 revaluation is now fully underway.
Counties in North Carolina are required by law to hold a revaluation of all real properties at least once every eight years. The last one took place in 2011 and it was fairly uneventful and less controversial compared to the one that was done in 2003.
The new value notices will be mailed out around the end of this month and there are approximately 36,000 of them, according to Assessor Tammy Wylie.
Tim Cain is McDowell’s revaluation coordinator and the outside consultant for this process. He is with the company Assessment Solutions of N.C. and has worked on revaluations for such North Carolina counties as Martin, Wilson and Bladen.
The McDowell News asked him what makes the 2019 reval different from previous ones.
“The tools are completely different now,” said Cain on Tuesday. “The taxpayers have new tools to look at sales and compare and contrast.”
Due to online resources, property owners and taxpayers can instantly look at how much a similar property is worth on the real estate market and determine if the new values they have received for their properties are accurate and just.
The tax software has been updated significantly over the past few years as well, according to Cain.
Then, there is the growth in neighborhoods and residential communities in McDowell County. 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.
When the last reval was done in 2011, McDowell County had 44 neighborhoods. Cain said Tuesday the definition of a neighborhood is a homogenous area of homes grouped together. The people in that neighborhood tend to go to the same grocery store and send their children to the same school.
The latest revaluation work has determined McDowell now has 270 neighborhoods. Some of them are new subdivisions while others are existing ones that now meet this criteria.
In November, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing about the revaluation. At that meeting, the commissioners heard a presentation from Cain, who started his PowerPoint 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 in November the goals for the new 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. He said in November he didn’t want to create a model home for the reval based on typical Buncombe homes or typical Burke homes or statewide homes. In addition, the process will have fewer assumptions and simpler answers.
“Everything has been simplified from the standpoint of pricing,” said Cain to The McDowell News on Tuesday. “We’re trying to make it simpler.”
Topography is another factor in determining values for homes and land. Communities like Creston and Gateway Mountain are examples of how mountain terrain can make a difference.
“Topography and access in the county are the chief factors in considering the value in a neighborhood,” said Cain.
He added the notices will be printed in a way that is more easily understood. They will be mailed out to homeowners, landowners and commercial property owners throughout McDowell.
As for the transparency, all sales of property used in this reval will be made available to the taxpayers during the informal appeals process, which will last through the end of March.
Property owners will be able to appeal by calling, mailing, faxing, emailing or visiting in person with county officials if they feel the new values are not right.
As to the overall impact of the reval, Cain said it is a mixed bag.
“Some folks in some areas are going to see very little changes at all,” he added. “Some folks in other areas will notice some changes. If taxpayers have any questions, I would invite them to reach out to us.”
An electronic appeal is available by visiting the county’s website http://www.mcdowellgov.com/ and then click on the Electronic Appeal link included in the menu section at the bottom of the page.
For the written appeal, you can detach and complete the informal appeal form contained in the notice and return it to the McDowell County Assessor’s Office. You may appeal in person by scheduling an appointment at 652-7121. All appeals must be filed with the Assessor’s Office within 30 days of getting the notification. It is not necessary to make a personal visit to the office if you are filing an informal appeal electronically or by mail, according to the notice.
If the property owner is dissatisfied with the informal appeal, then the matter can be brought before the McDowell County Commissioners when they meet as the Board of Equalization and Review.
The Board of E&R will meet between the first Monday in April and the first Monday in May to hear any appeals.
In November, Commission Chairman David 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 at the time.
“The board has indicated a preference to go to a four-year cycle after this one is completed, said County Manager Ashley Wooten. “They have not voted on it yet.”
This is Wooten’s first revaluation since he became county manager and the first one for Wylie since she became assessor.