Mecklenburg reval review hits milestone – first refunds mailed

dperlmutt@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 10, 2014 

  • Reval review questions for Ken Joyner

    •  How long will the revaluation review take?

    By February, Pearson’s Appraisal Service expects to be reviewing 25,000 parcels a month. They expect to complete the review and processing of Mecklenburg’s 356,000 parcels by late February 2015.

    •  Will all parcels in the county be reviewed?

    Yes, all 356,000 parcels, residential and commercial, will be reviewed. Not all will receive a new value, however. The value for a parcel starts at Jan. 1, 2011, and then values are set for January 2012, 2013 and now 2014.

    •  Can all values be appealed?

    Yes.

    •  How many years will be refunded?

    It depends on when your neighborhood is reviewed. For those already reviewed, refunds or bills could come for 2011, 2012 and 2013. If your property is reviewed this year ... then you could be refunded or billed for 2014.

    •  Who gets the refund, or bill?

    If you paid the bill for 2011, you’ll get the refund, even if you don’t own the property anymore. There’ll be a number of parcels that will have changed hands, and possibly multiple times. If properties are found to be undervalued, the bill for those properties will go to current owners, even if they didn’t own the parcels in 2011.

    •  How can property owners keep up with the progress of the review?

    Go to the tax assessor’s office homepage on the county’s website: charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/assessorsoffice. That page has a list of the neighborhoods where Pearson’s appraisers will be during the current week, and previous weeks. Joyner’s office has been working on a link that will allow property owners to supply an address, name or parcel number that will trigger information on when Pearson’s appraisers will be in their neighborhood. He hopes it will be activated on the homepage late next week.

The legislative-mandated review of Mecklenburg County’s 2011 property revaluation reached a milestone Friday – the first refund checks were mailed to overbilled taxpayers.

The 177 refunds come from the first batch of 246 Myers Park parcels that were reviewed by county-hired Pearson’s Appraisal Service in October, Mecklenburg Tax Assessor Ken Joyner said.

The total refunds: $25,710.38. Most parcels saw no change in value or small increases or decreases – and several taxpayers owners found dramatic swings in their property values. Property owners are eligible for refunds if they were also overbilled in subsequent years.

The highest refund was $2,912, mailed to Farrell Hudzik at 3025 Hanson Drive for 2012. The lowest refund: 79 cents. Southeast Resort Investment Partners will get two refunds: one for $2,221 for 2011 and $2,124 for 2012.

Seven refunds were for more than $1,000 and 30 for more than $100.

The small number of refunds is sure to get significantly higher as Pearson’s continues to increase its reviews each month. Joyner said he hopes by February that Pearson’s will begin to hit its target of reviewing 25,000 parcels a month. They reviewed 5,200 parcels in November and 5,500 in December.

Pearson’s has targeted late February 2015 to complete reviews and processing of all 356,000 Mecklenburg parcels.

“This is a major milestone in this process to get these checks in the mail,“ said Joyner, who’d been on the job a week when county commissioners approved the new values for the 246 parcels. “It’s starting to ramp up and that makes me very encouraged that we’ll have this review finished in the time the law give us.”

A new state law passed last year forced the review after dozens of major flaws were discovered in the original revaluation, sparking a countywide protest by property owners.

The county hired Pearson’s last September to conduct the review, costing Mecklenburg an additional $3.4 million from the work the firm was already doing for the county. Mecklenburg first hired Pearson’s in July 2012 after the revaluation three years ago triggered a flood of protests and appeals.

The company found dozens of major and minor flaws, which led to state legislation last July that requires the county to review, by neighborhood, the values of all parcels.

Along with reviewing the value set for 2011, Pearson’s is recalculating values for 2012, 2013 and 2014 as well, Joyner said. Some values changed during that span perhaps because of an addition, or appraisers discovering improvements that had gone unrecorded, he said.

Once commissioners approve values for a month’s review of properties, notices are mailed within two weeks letting property owners know the value of their parcel.

After they get the notice, they have 30 days to appeal the value. If there is no appeal, then refunds or bills could take another 45 days to be mailed.

“The whole process takes 65 to 75 days to complete,” Joyner said.

After their review, all property owners will be notified if the value of their parcel didn’t change, was raised or was lowered, Joyner said.

The law also gave the county authority to bill property owners if their parcels were undervalued. Joyner said those property owners billed now won’t have to pay until their next property taxes are due – later this year.

The county has not decided when bills posted in the second half of the year would be added to future tax bills, he said.

“We are trying to keep the taxpayers in mind as we go through the process and not load someone up for the year,” Joyner said. “All of us are on a budget.” Reporter Gavin Off contributed to this article.

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061

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