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Careful What You Wish For? Bill Provides Refunds - And Back Taxes - For Reval Errors

Mecklenburg County residents who've paid too much property tax these last few years because of the botched 2011 revaluation will get refunds . . . eventually. But legislation unveiled today to fix the problems also would result in a bill for back taxes for property that was undervalued.

Cornelius homeowner Bob Deaton expects to get a refund. He and his neighbors were the first to organize against the 2011 Mecklenburg County property revaluation as soon as they got their new tax bills two years ago.

"Obviously none of us knew what we were dealing with, but we all knew what we were dealing with, but we all knew we had an evaluation saying, 'You're gonna pay a lot more taxes.' My taxes were close to $4,000 more," Deaton says.

Since then, a private firm hired by the county to inspect the revaluation process found major problems in as many as 10 percent of Mecklenburg neighborhoods. That firm is overseeing a complete re-do of the revaluation.

And now a bill has been introduced in Raleigh to make sure people get refunds - with interest – on the taxes they've overpaid. But the re-do will likely also result in some properties being assessed higher values. They'll get a bill for back taxes, says Representative Bill Brawley - the bill's House sponsor.

"The reason we will have to collect the underpayments is the constitution requires that everyone be treated the same and fairly. And if they were undervalued in error, that error needs to be corrected as well as correcting the errors on overvalues and charges," Brawley said Monday morning at the Mecklenburg County Government Center.

But at least everyone will have a fair bill, adds Brawley. The measure has support of Republican and Democratic representatives from Mecklenburg County. Brawley expects it to be in committee this week and pass quickly into law. However, redoing the revaluation and issuing refunds will likely take two to three years.