Assessor says complaints relatively low in Southampton

Published 11:39 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

BRANCHVILLE—Drew Edwards questions the ability of the company hired to reassess Southampton County’s 12,000 properties. That’s after he learned the assessment on his 20-year-old home, which sits on three acres near Branchville, jumped 15 percent since 2005.

“Everyone knows stuff is selling a lot cheaper than five or six years ago,” said Edwards, a loan officer with Southern Trust Mortgage in Franklin.

At the current tax rate, the property taxes on his three-bedroom home on Little Texas Road would jump from $1,652 to $1,942 in 2012.

While Edwards plans to appeal to the county Board of Assessments, Burwell Riddick isn’t complaining about his reassessment, even though he is somewhat concerned.

The assessment on Riddick’s 60-year-old Colonial Street home in Courtland dropped 9 percent since the last reassessment in 2005, which means his property taxes at the current rate would drop from $693 to $577 next year.

“As far as taxes, I think it’s great,” said Riddick, who is retired from Vitex Packaging in Suffolk. “If I want to sell it, that’s not good. I didn’t expect it to go down.”

Harold Wingate, president of Wingate and Associates in Roanoke, said an average of 35 property owners appeared daily this week before the Board of Assessments to talk about their assessments.

“We didn’t have a lot, not considering there’s something like more than 12,000 properties in the county,” Wingate said. “It’s relatively low. Some (reassessments) in the past have been far different than this. Whether this means they are happy with it, or don’t want to come in ….”

The mailing of new assessments began last week. Wingate at the time reported that some assessments went up, some remained the same and some went down.

Law requires that a reassessment be done at least every six years to reflect current market values.

The reassessment process began in January with a study of property sales for 2010. Market sales for 2010 and the first half of 2011 also were considered.

The last reassessment in the county was effective for the 2006 tax year. The field work took place in 2005. These six-year-old assessments generally do not reflect current market values.

Anyone who believes his assessment is out of line with similar properties can bring it to the attention of the Reassessment Office in Courtland along with supporting facts that may be used in reconsidering the assessment.

Hearings on the reassessment values began Monday. Hearing dates and times are included on the reassessment notice mailed to property owners. The Board of Assessments will review information presented by property owners and notify them about any changes, Wingate said.

If they are still unhappy with the assessment, property owners can appeal to the Board of Equalization.

Wingate did not have a comparison of total assessed value in the new round of assessments versus 2005.

“We don’t have those figures available,” he said. “We continue to make reviews.”

“At such time we have that, the comparison will not be with 2005 or one effective for 2006,” Wingate continued. “It will be the current land. It would just be the difference between the 2011 land book and the current values in that six-year interim. The county has continued to update those values.”

He expects to have those figures by mid-December.