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Commissioners appoint all applicants to board for revaluation

Rowan County Commissioners on Monday appointed 11 Rowan County residents to the board that’ll make the final decision locally on property tax appeals, but more could be added at the next board meeting.

With little discussion, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed all applicants to the county’s Board of Equalization and Review, which will decide on property tax appeals during the 2015 revaluation. The last revaluation was in 2011.

The group of people appointed to the board included: Technical consultant Jeffrey Brown; consultant and Historic Preservation Commission member Lisa Cartner; former Salisbury Board of Zoning and Adjustment chairman Donald Conner; retired computer specialist Jennifer Craft, who was on the board during 2007 revaluation; James Honeycutt, who previously served on the Board of Equalization and review; software product support specialist Randy Johnson, formerly a sheriff’s deputy and Salisbury police officer; computer consultant James Kirks, who has been active with political group La Resistance; and Jim LaFevers, the Granite Quarry Mayor Pro Tem and a retired general contractor.

The only question raised by commissioners was if 11 was enough to adequately hear property tax appeals.

County Assessor Kelvin Byrd during the meeting said less than the initially desired 20 applicants would still work, but more members of the board would help. Commissioners are expected to consider one more group of applicants during their March 16 meeting, and the county is still accepting applications.

The Board of Equalization and Review will be the second stage of appeal for property owners who don’t agree with assessed property tax values, which Byrd said were mailed last week.

If the assessed value and, subsequently, the amount of taxes warrants an appeal, Byrd said Rowan county property owners could challenge the assessed value online, via mail or in person at the County  Assessor’s Office. Byrd’s staff would be the first to judge an appeal. The Board of Equalization and review is the final option locally if owners still feel the value is unfair.

Byrd recommended that property owners who plan to appeal use facts and figures, such as prices of similar homes, as reason for a property tax value change.

This year, he’s expecting 10 percent of the more than 70,000 land parcels to be appealed to the staff of the County Assessor’s Office. Of that percentage, he expects 20 percent to proceed to the Board of Equalization and Review. In total, that’s about 2 percent of all land parcels in Rowan County being appealed to the board.

This year the board will be paid $60 per working session. Byrd said the county is planning for 100 sessions, with each one being about three to four hours long. Depending on the number of appeals, all of the sessions may not be needed, he said. Five members comprise the board, with a number of alternates needed.

Byrd said property owners have 20 days from Feb. 23 to file an appeal. The Board of Equalization and Review will hear its first cases in early April, he said.

Property tax is a source of revenue for the county’s budget. This year, Byrd says, the total assessed value of property in Rowan County hasn’t changed much when compared to 2011, the last time property was re-evaluated. He projects a flat revaluation or one percent lower. Flat property tax values may not mean an increase in revenue for local government, but Byrd said it’s not necessarily negative to remain flat. When revaluation occurred in 2011, property tax values had decreased sharply compared to 2007.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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