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Rowan County commissioners won't delay revaluatoin

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
Property revaluation will go forward on schedule in 2011, barring a major-league problem.
Rowan County commissioners agreed Monday they aren’t willing to delay the scheduled revaluation in hopes values will increase.
Commissioners heard a presentation from Vice Chairman Jon Barber and county tax officials. Barber asked for the discussion and included a multi-page memo on possible scenarios ranging from moving the revaluation up a year to delaying it one or two years.
Barber said citizens are concerned about the timing of the revaluation.
He noted a revaluation could lower the county’s overall tax base. The result would be commissioners having to cut services or raise the property tax rate to offset the loss.
Over at least the past four revaluations, the county’s tax value has grown by around 15 percent. The total tax base is now nearly $12 billion.
For example, a 10 percent decline in value would cut annual revenue by $6 million using the current tax rate.
Barber noted the potential impact on municipalities that could be hit hard by devaluation, or loss of value.
Tax Administrator Jerry Rowland said many property owners are now saying their property has lost value because “they’ve read it in the paper.”
He said price drops in Rowan County are “not nearly as drastic as what we see in the paper.” He said most of the big drops have occurred in areas where the housing boom caused prices to skyrocket.
Rowland said state regulations do not allow appraisers to consider foreclosure, auction or other distress-sale prices when setting tax values.
Appraisers may consider only sales with true or market value.
But Rowland said it may be difficult to find enough sales to prepare the schedules. He noted such sales are off about 50 percent from last year.
He said not being able to find enough sales to establish a schedule of values could be a problem with a revaluation.
“We may need extra time to see what the market does,” Rowland said. If anything, he said, he would favor delaying the revaluation by a year.
Rowland said there is no way the revaluation could be performed sooner than scheduled. “We don’t have the staff.”
Commissioner Chad Mitchell said delaying the revaluation would not be fair to property owners. He said the only way he would vote to delay it is if the tax office can’t find enough sales data.
Chairman Carl Ford agreed, saying he wants the revaluation to stay on track.
“Stay on schedule,” added Commissioner Tina Hall.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain agreed and added that a decrease in overall value doesn’t mean the county has to cut services.
Barber urged the two sets of documents he had prepared be forwarded to municipalities and the volunteer fire districts for information. The board agreed.

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