Landowner looking for more clarity in valuation standards from county

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 7, 2011

By Karissa Minn
A Mount Ulla man is challenging the countyís standards for revaluation and may make a formal appeal to the state.
James Rollans, a farmer, said he has concerns about the validity of the data to be used in revaluation, and he thinks some of the present use values for commercial farmland have no ěrhyme or reason.î
ěThat involves over 3,000 landowners who farm and rent land to farmers,î Rollans said. ěWhat Iím concerned about is if those people are being taxed at a fair, uniform rate. There should be a basis behind it.î
Michael Brown and Heather Scheel, officials with the Property Tax Division of the N.C. Department of Revenue, met with Rollans and county tax staff Friday to determine whether or not Rollansí challenge had standing for an appeal to the state Property Tax Commission. Neither could be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
According to Barbara McGuire with the county tax assessorís office, Brown said Rollansí complaint regarding present use values had the most chance of the concerns he raised to be heard before the commission.
As a settlement to keep the issue from being appealed to the state, McGuire said staff offered to add the Use Value Advisory Board Manual recommendations for assessing present use value land to the countyís 2011 schedules, standards and rules for revaluation. Those recommendations are based on soil types and productivity.
The Present-Use Value Program allows certain parcels of farmland to be taxed on a land value much lower than market value. Currently, those values are calculated based on rental costs.
ěPutting the Use Value Advisory Board Manual in the schedule of values is something Iíve been wanting them to do for years,î Rollans said.
County staff also offered to strengthen the wording of the document to say the attached manual will be used for property owners in the present use value program who provided soil data.
Currently, the schedule of values states that if a property owner gives the tax administration office a detailed soil analysis of his or her property, ěthe information will be taken into consideration and adjustments made where warranted.î
McGuire said this would be ěquite intensiveî for the office to do at this time, but it will accept individual requests.
ěWe have 3,500 parcels that are in the present use program right now, and then of course each one of the parcels might have three to four classifications,î she said.
Rollans said he is considering the countyís offer and hopes to decide Monday if he wants to make an appeal to the state Property Tax Commission.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.