By Brian Graves, Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2013 —
A process that has taken more than two years and thousands of man hours is coming to an end and Stanly County property owners will see the results sometime in March.
The revalutation of property, required by state law every eight years, is in its final stages.
“It has been a challenge defining the real estate market in this economy,” Stanly County Tax Administrator Melia Miller said.
The map in the hallways of the administrator’s office at the courthouse shows just how large the task was.
A county map is separated into 522 different grids, each having a number of property parcels within that grid.
Certified appraisers split up the grids, got into their cars and went to each piece of property within the county.
“As they went to each property, they had the assessment card with them describing the property from the last assessment,” Miller said.
“We also used aerial photography,” added Charles Johnson, real property assessor supervisor.
Miller said the county is fortunate and unique to have four certified assessors on staff and their jobs are not yet done.
Now that all of the county’s more than 37,500 parcels have been viewed and assessed, a second review is under way to make sure all assessments are up to date and in line with the fair market values available as of the end of the year.
Miller explained the reappraisals are based on fair market values.
“That is the most probable price, in terms of money, at which a property would exchange hands between a willing and financially able buyer and willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used,” Miller said.
She added foreclosure sales are not used when formulating fair market values.
Johnson said that one of the brighter spots found during the process is that the foreclosure rate has dropped slightly over the last few months.
“That would be a good sign for everyone,” Johnson said.
Once the final review process is completed, assessment notices will go out.
“Everyone needs to understand when they receive that assessment, that is not their tax bill,” Miller said.
“There’s no need to rush to pay something.”
She explained taxing will come later once the local governmental bodies set the tax rates.
“It’s based on the assessment, the cost of services and the tax rate as set by local officials,” Miller said.
She also wanted citizens to understand any increase or decrease is not uniform for every owner.
“These values are based on the individual property,” Miller said.
“You may own a piece of property where values have gone up 30 percent, but there may be those properties where the values have gone down. It is not a uniform number.”
Once a property owner receives their new valuation, they have 30 days in which to appeal the new value.
“We are expecting there could be several calls to the office since this is the first time in eight years those values will or may have changed,” Johnson said.
He added that anyone pursuing that process should come with all possible information on their property or properties they can bring.
“The more information that can be provided to us, the better able we are to evaluate the situation,” Johnson said.
Miller said the tax office is there to serve the people of Stanly County.
“One way we are doing that is if and when someone comes to our office to question the new valuation, they will sit with an assessor to do that,” Miller said.
“That is a service not available in many counties.”