Commissioners: Rowan revaluation on schedule for 2011
By Jessie Burchette
If property owners face revaluation in good times when values are soaring, they should also face tax appraisal in bad times, when values are dropping.
That was the verdict of county commissioners at their meeting Monday evening.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners rejected pleas by county tax officials to delay the planned 2011 revaluation by one or two years until the real estate market stabilizes and improves.
The board heard nearly an hour of reasons why the county shouldn’t go forward with revaluation.
Tax Administrator Jerry Rowland and Barbara McGuire, the county’s personal property manager, provided commissioners with hundreds of pages of documents, including sales data.
Rowland said in his career, which has included performing more than 30 revaluations, he has never before recommended a delay.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said, referring to the economy and its impact on single-family home sales.
Rowland said the county typically has 3,000 to 3,500 property sales to use as the guideline for setting values across the county.
In the first six months of this year, there have been only 250 “good” ó or non-distressed ó sales.
He cited state law that doesn’t allow using foreclosure or bank sales or auction sales of property for revaluation purposes.
Rowland raised the prospect that any revaluation done without adequate good sales data would draw increased appeals from property owners.
Rowland and County Attorney Jay Dees said a schedule of values built on inadequate sales data could pose problems on the state appeals level.
And Rowland said if countywide values drop 15 percent, the state automatically mandates a revaluation within 30 months.
Commissioners Vice Chairman Jon Barber and Commissioner Raymond Coltrain argued in favor of delaying the revaluation until the market stabilizes.
Coltrain asked Rowland if the Rowan County real estate market is beginning to stabilize.
“We have a very unstable market. I’d love to see a cooling off period,” Rowland replied.
“We’ll work with the numbers we’ve got,” board Chairman Carl Ford said. He added that 99 percent of the people he has heard from want to stay on schedule.
And Ford noted that his father, M.D. Ford, had delivered the message in person: Stay the course, ride the storm out.
M.D. Ford served as chairman of the Board of Equalization and Review, hearing hundreds of appeals from the last revaluation.
Commissioner Tina Hall noted that at a recent Municipal Association meeting, most of the municipal officials favored going forward with revaluation on schedule.
Hall said talk of delaying the revaluation is causing citizens to feel like an opportunity is being snatched from their hands.
Hall asked McGuire what the 21 counties are doing that are going forward with revaluations.
“We don’t know,” she responded. “We can find out.”
Mitchell took issue with the state mandate that sales data from auctions on the courthouse steps can’t be used.
“That gives you true market value,” Mitchell said. “That’s fair market value, what somebody is willing to pay.”
Mitchell asked what would happen if the board voted to stay on schedule with the next revaluation.
“We’ll do what the board wants. We work for you,” Rowland responded.
Hall and Ford joined in approving the motion by Mitchell to stay with the planned 2011 revaluation.
Barber and Coltrain voted against the motion.