500 county assessments appealed

Published 11:04 am Saturday, December 3, 2011

COURTLAND—Adrian Brooks was fairly pleased with the explanation behind a $200,000 property tax assessment increase on his 1,600 acres in Southampton County.

“I think they were reasonable,” said Brooks, after talking to an assessor. “We were satisfied with the explanations.”

Whether or not the Sebrell man appeals the outcome of his assessment hearing waits to be seen.

“It depends on the adjustments,” he said.

Brooks was among nearly 500 who questioned their reassessments since receiving notices in mid-November.

“That included some folks that didn’t come in,” said Harold Wingate, president of Wingate and Associates in Roanoke, whose company was hired by the county to reassess 12,000 properties. “We gave them the opportunity for one of the appraisers to call them back.”

Wingate initially indicated 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.

Hearings on the reassessment values began Nov. 14. Hearing dates and times were included on the reassessment notice mailed to property owners.

Anyone who visited assessors can expect to hear whether or not their assessments will be changed by the week of Dec. 19.

“We have people making reviews in the field and going back in some cases, where people would request a review of the dwelling,” Wingate said. “If there is a change in the values as a result of information that was brought to our attention, that revised notice will show that. If it has not been changed, the notice will show that.”

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

Applications for appeal to the Board of Equalization must be made by Feb. 15. The Equalization Board must conclude its work before March 30. Hearing dates for the Board of Equalization appeals will be advertised.