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Local News

Meck Co: Tax Revaluation Appeals Will Proceed

http://66.225.205.104/JR20120208a.mp3

Mecklenburg County will not stop processing appeals from property owners upset over new property tax values. Cornelius town leaders asked for a moratorium on the process, saying their residents are being treated unfairly. Mecklenburg County Commissioners learned during their meeting Tuesday night they "have no authority to halt the process," according to County attorney Marvin Bethune. Once the wheels of property revaluation have been set in motion they're governed by state law, like it or not, explained Bethune. Commissioner Karen Bentley pressed the issue, saying homeowners in her district complain of properties in the same neighborhoods being assessed vastly different values. They say the process to appeal is confusing and they're particularly upset about the short time homeowners are given to appeal their valuation before the Board of Equalization and Review. "I can clearly understand why citizens feel they don't get a fair hearing," said Bentley during Tuesday night's meeting. "They have worked hours and days and probably spent thousands of dollars to build a case, and they come (before the Board of Equalization and Review) and they say 'You have five minutes.' How can they possibly get a fair hearing?" Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander spent two hours in front of the commission Tuesday night defending the process. "With the respect to the board hearing times, how fair is it? Well there is an extensive process wrapped around that to ensure that all the information about the appeal has been presented and in a manner that the board can take action on that quickly," said Alexander. Mecklenburg County is in the middle of its first revaluation of property in eight years. The process to appeal has several steps: first a property owner appeals in writing. Alexander says the county has received nearly 42,000 of those - about 12 percent of all properties that were revalued. If the county rejects that first appeal, the owner can appeal to the Board of Equalization and Review, which has happened about 8,000 times. Alexander says a little more than half of those are still pending. Meanwhile, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis says Mecklenburg County residents aren't the only ones complaining about property revaluation. He's heard complaints from around the state and plans to create a working group that will review state laws governing the process.