Revaluation appeals under way

Published 9:26 am Thursday, April 8, 2010

Staff Writer

Informal hearings are under way for Beaufort County property owners who are dissatisfied with the county’s assessment of the value of their property, according to Tax Assessor Bobby Parker.
The county has installed seven dedicated telephone lines to handle calls from disgruntled property owners who disagree with the new values assigned to their properties. But, to date, fewer of them have asked appraisers to reconsider the value of their homes and land than in 2002, the year of the previous revaluation, Parker told the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners earlier this week.
A two-year process of evaluating and updating the value of Beaufort County property neared its end in recent weeks when valuation notices on 44,360 pieces of property began arriving in mailboxes.
Property owners who disagree with the values contained in those notices — known as Notice of Real Estate Assessed Value — have the right to contest those values at informal hearing before real-estate appraisers who will thoroughly review and consider such appeals, Parker said.
Those hearings are being held in county offices at 132 N. Market St. in Washington, he said.
One commissioner urged disgruntled property owners to take advantage of the informal hearing process as a remedy to their concerns.
“If you have a complaint, now is an easy fix,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson. “And it’s not going to take away from your ability to lodge a formal complaint later.”
Once property owners are notified of the results of the review, they have the option of accepting the recommendation or appealing further.  
That next step is to formally appeal to the Board of Equalization and Review, which, in Beaufort County, is comprised of the members of the Board of Commissioners. The first meeting of that board has been set for 2 p.m. April 30.
The informal reviews are the latest step in the property revaluations that counties are required to perform.
State law requires that property be appraised for taxation at 100 percent of its fair-market value at least once every eight years. The current revaluation of property will ensure that all property values match their current market value and that every property owner is taxed fairly, county leaders have said.
But the question on most property owners’ minds — concerning the amount of their property tax bills based on the new values — won’t be answered until later this spring when the commissioners set the new tax rate. They’ll likely get their first hint when County Manager Paul Spruill presents his 2010-2011 budget proposal to the commissioners, which Spruill said earlier this week will take place at the board’s meeting May 10.