10/20/10 — Schedules of values ready for view now

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Schedules of values ready for view now

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 20, 2010 1:46 PM

Whether it is a chicken house or a mansion, the county's proposed new schedules of values will provide a means of measuring and assessing the value all property in the county.

The schedules are, in essence, an "appraiser's manual" that provide the base rates to revalue property, Wayne County Tax Administrator David Ward told county commissioners at their Tuesday session.

"Someone could pick (the schedule) up five years from now and do what we would do," he said.

Once adopted, the schedules cannot be increased or decreased which ensures that the county is consistent and fair in revaluing property, he said.

"We use them for consistency. We cannot fluctuate like the economy," he said.

Commissioners had few questions for Ward and Assistant Tax Administrator Alan Lumpkin, but took no action Tuesday other than to schedule a public hearing on the schedules for Nov. 2 at 9:15 a.m. in their boardroom on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The schedules will be available for public inspection beginning today in the county tax office on the first floor of the courthouse annex.

The new values are the result of the property revaluation that the county does every eight years. The current values were established during the 2003 revaluation.

Land is valued separately from buildings.

Ward and Lumpkin provided a couple of example values -- $65 per square foot for a strip shopping center, $104 per square for a medical office and $70 per square foot for a single-family home.

State law requires the revaluations every eight years, County Attorney Borden Parker said. The property must be valued at 100 percent of its market value, he said.

The state, not the counties, value utilities even though the counties receive taxes from the utilities, he said.

Failure to value property at 100 percent of its market value would mean that a county would not receive its full taxes from utilities, Parker said.

Commissioner Steve Keen asked who had created the schedules and had a formula been used for property along U.S. 70 -- a major retail and commercial center for the county.

The values are compiled by the tax office and no special formula has been used for U.S. 70, Ward said.

Lumpkin said the values provide a range of prices, He said the tax office had been examining property sales over the past year and commercials sales from over the past year and a half to help determine the values.

Appraisers from the tax office have been in the county, starting in the Grantham area, for some time inspecting property. Their jobs is not to assign values to the property, but to verify buildings, their conditions and any changes, such as the addition of garages or outbuildings.

The workers will eventually cover the entire county, finishing up with Goldsboro.

Property owners can expect to receive their new properly values around March or April and the values will be based on the property's market value as of Jan. 1, 2011.

The notification will include paperwork with which to file an informal appeal. Once an informal appeal is filed, the tax office will review the property.

If the tax office does not change the value, the taxpayer may appeal to the county commissioners sitting as the Board of Equalization and Review.

Lumpkin encouraged people to educate themselves about the value of their property. He said people could look at sales in their own community or check real estate ads to see what property similar to theirs is selling for.

"Then you will have an idea how much your property is worth within a few thousand dollars," Lumpkin said.

Keen asked why wait eight years to conduct a revaluation. He also wanted to know if they could be done sooner.

Ward said that the eight-year cycle is the maximum allowed by the state. However, county commissioners could change to a four-year cycle, he said.

"Then you are pretty much revaluing all the time so you will have to have more staff," he said.

Ward said the shorter cycle might make sense for areas in which selling prices change quickly. However, for areas that don't change as quickly, the process would not be cost-effective, he said.

Tax officials have said that people have a misconception that revaluations are done to raise taxes.

County Manager Lee Smith said the county tax rate and the schedules of values are two separate issues.

"The tax rate has nothing to do with the revaluation. It has to do with the county budget," Smith said.

Commissioners could approve the schedules on Nov. 16 after which four notices about the schedules will be published over a two-month period on Nov. 17 and 24 and Dec. 1 and 8.

Dec. 17 is the final day that the schedules can be appealed.

Property owners cannot use the county average to calculate their property taxes since one person's property value might have increased by 5 percent, while someone else's may have gone up 15 percent, tax officials have said.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners scheduled a public hearing for 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 16 for proposed amendments to the county's subdivision ordinance. A public hearing is required before commissioners can approve any changes.

The changes, recommended by the county Planing Board, are:

* To allow surveyors to submit a digital copy of a preliminary subdivision plat in lieu of a paper copy

* Add Wayne County Cooperative Extension Service, Board of Education and Emergency Medical Services to the list of agencies that review and make recommendations on plats

* Following the initial review the surveyors would be required to increase the number of paper copies to 15 along with a digital copy for commissioners

* Allow the surveyors to submit a digital copy of the original final plat in lieu of paper copies

* Require plats to include information about existing water lines and fire hydrants.