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Board denies bank's request

By By JONATHAN CLAYBORNE, News Editor
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners denied First South Bank of Washington's request to lower the appraised value of the bank's headquarters on Carolina Avenue.
Tax Assessor Bobby Parker reported that the bank appealed the value of the building after the revaluation of property in the county.
New values assessed by the county took effect last year.
The bank's 10,544-square-foot headquarters was constructed in 1986, according to tax records.
Before revaluation, the headquarters had been valued at $747,678 for land and buildings, the records show.
The new value set by the county is $1,091,048.
The bank paid $13,174.40 in taxes in 2002, according to the tax collector's office.
The bank appealed the new value to the Board of Equalization and Review, which consists of all seven county commissioners. The appeal was denied, according to Parker.
The bank then appealed to the N.C. Property Tax Commission in Raleigh. Essentially, the Property Tax Commission is a trial court that considers appeals of property appraisals.
"It's kind of a lengthy process," Parker said. "Lot of papers to fill out."
The bank's initial appeal resulted in what Parker called "a compromise."
The tax assessor's office agreed to lower the total tax value of the land and buildings to $935,408, documents provided by the office show.
On March 5, Parker recommended that the commissioners approve the compromise during a regular meeting.
Commissioner David Moore made a motion to accept Parker's recommendation, followed by a second from Commissioner Frank Bonner.
The motion failed 5-2, with Moore and Commissioner Jerry Langley voting for Parker's recommendation. Next, the board voted 5-2 against the recommendation, with Moore and Bonner dissenting.
"Well, they'll just have to go to Raleigh," said Earl Tetterton, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
Tom Vann, president of the bank, declined to comment.
The bank was one of about 20 property owners to appeal to the Property Tax Commission after revaluation, Parker related. Most of the property owners were individuals, not businesses, he said.
Of those 20, the county commissioners approved three appeals that were sent back by the Property Tax Commission, Parker said. Others withdrew their appeals, according to Parker.
The appeal of at least one business continues, Parker related. Also appealing is WITN-TV, which has its headquarters in Chocowinity.
Approximately 2,000 property owners participated in an informal review process following revaluation. Of those 2,000, Parker estimates 300 came before the county commissioners.
The commissioners could continue to block the bank's request. Those seeking a ruling from the Property Tax Commission may appeal that ruling before the N.C. Court of Appeals.
Jonathan Clayborne may be reached by telephone at 940-4213 or via e-mail at jonathan@wdnweb.com.