Mecklenburg County is now officially required by state law to fix its botched 2011 revaluation and start issuing property tax refunds. An outside review estimated about one-third of the county's neighborhoods were assigned unfair property values.
The question on most minds now is, "When will I get that refund?"
"The quick answer would be very soon, for those whose properties have already been reviewed," says Interim county manager and tax assessor Bobbie Shields.
As early as October, in fact, adds Shields. But that's only for about 1.5 percent of the more than 350,000 parcels in all of Mecklenburg County. A firm called Pearson's Appraisal Services has been reworking tax values in a handful of neighborhoods found to have the most egregious discrepancies.
State Senator Jeff Tarte says the county is now required by newly-passed law to revalue every single parcel. His advice to property owners? "Be patient."
"Passing the legislation, in some ways, is just the first step in getting the whole mess cleaned up," says Tarte of Senate Bill 159.
Part of the problem in 2011 was the county assigned new values based on property information that, in some cases, hadn't been updated in a decade or longer.
Interim county assessor Shields says it could take a few years to get every property value updated. He hopes to send out refunds - with interest – throughout the process. Keep in mind, the review may also result in some people owing higher taxes, which they'll be allowed to appeal, says Shields.
"And then we basically start back over with the entire appeals process that we're still trying to resolve from 2011," says Shields.
It's sure to be time consuming and confusing for all involved. But at least this new law will prevent a future revaluation from going so terribly wrong, right?
"It won't," says Tarte, flatly.
This latest law is just a fix to the 2011 problems. Next, Tarte says, a study group of citizens, lawmakers and experts will form to help revise all of the state's laws regarding property tax revaluation.