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Common Complaints Emerge From Revaluation Hearings

A private firm enlisted to investigate Mecklenburg County's 2011 property revaluation is nearing the end of a public hearing schedule. 

Seventy-seven people attended a hearing in Matthews last week to sound-off on the county's revaluation process. A hearing in Cornelius drew 170 people and went for three hours. The next two meetings - on Beatties Ford Road last week and at the Government Center last night drew fewer than 20 people each. But attendance numbers aside, audit manager Emmett Curl says the hearings are yielding a similar set of concerns.

"Some of the concerns I've heard are customer service, access to information, openness," says Curl. "We've heard some problem areas that need to be investigated - they tend to be built around the percentage of increase and (people) feel that they exceed market value."

Following a year of complaints from property owners, Mecklenburg County hired Pearson's Appraisal Service to spend four months figuring out if the 2011 revaluation was conducted properly. Curls says these public hearings will help auditors know which neighborhoods need closer investigation.

Cornelius is bound to be on that list. Residents there were some of the earliest to organize in opposition to much higher property values assigned in the revaluation. The county says Bill Green's waterfront property doubled in value between 2003 and 2011. "That's right folks - my land value went up from $300,000 to $600,000!" said Green. Green says that's out of step with the private appraisals he's received.

"Arbitrary and capricious" are words used often during these public hearings. Mary Reed lives in the First Ward Uptown, where she says homes on her street seem to have been randomly assigned much higher values than others nearby. "Just my opinion, seems like they shifted the tax burden from one street to the next street," said Reed.

For every complaint about property values, there's another about the appeals process. Homeowners say it's confusing, inconsistent and insincere. Nathan Craig says his attempts to appeal the value assigned to his Dilworth home backfired. "Every time I've appealed they've actually raised the value by $10,000, which is kind of, I guess, trying to discourage people from going through the appeal process," said Craig.

Tonight the Pearson's team will hear from homeowners at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Senior Center on Tyvola Road. The last of six hearings will be Thursday at First Baptist Church West. Then, auditors will start reviewing property values in about 200 randomly-selected neighborhoods and an assortment of 'trouble spots' identified during the hearings.

A final report to the public and Mecklenburg County Commissioners is due in November.