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.