Reval timetable changes

Published 11:15 am Thursday, July 20, 2017

JACKSON – Every county in North Carolina is required by law to perform a revaluation of real property every eight years or less. In December 2004, Northampton County’s Board of Commissioners shortened their revaluation cycle to every four years. Now in July 2017, the current county commissioners voted to change that cycle back to the maximum eight years.

The issue was first brought up at the Commissioner’s regular board meeting on July 3. Tax Administrator Cathy Allen went before the Board to ask approval for a contract with an outside appraisal service to assist county staff in performing the upcoming property revaluation, which will be effective January 1, 2019.

Allen explained the need for assistance was due to the tax office being understaffed. The contract appraisers in question had previously assisted the county for the 2007, 2011, and 2015 revaluations. The maximum amount payable to the contract appraisers would be $200,000, an increase of $75,000 from the previous contract due to additional work they would provide for the county this time. Allen said she did not anticipate the contractors reaching that $200,000 limit.

During discussion of the contract, Commissioner Charles Tyner questioned why Northampton did revaluations every four years instead of eight. He did not think there would be enough change in property values to warrant the shortened cycle. He suggested that a return to eight years would save the county money, saying that they wouldn’t need to pay the contractors as often.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner also suggested that a longer time period might give the county staff enough time necessary to do the work without outside assistance.

At the July 3 meeting, the Board agreed to table the issue until they had more information about the subject.

During public comments at that meeting, citizen Jack Saunders briefly explained the reasoning behind the decision to change the cycle. Property appraisals skyrocketed in 2004, he said, particularly in the Lake Gaston area, and many people were unable to afford to pay their property taxes.

When the Board of Commissioners met on July 17 for their regular meeting, Allen stood once more before the Board to provide them with the additional information they requested.

Faulkner inquired whether an increase to a six year cycle or an eight year cycle would allow the county staff to complete the work without a contractor. Allen explained that the contract appraisers would still be necessary for training staff and providing additional assistance in the revaluation process, no matter how long the cycle is.

None of the other commissioners had issue with using contracted work. Tyner repeated his assessment from the previous meeting that property values in Northampton County do not change enough in four years to warrant spending the money.

Commissioner Fannie Greene said she agreed with Tyner. She motioned that they change the revaluation cycle to every six years. When they voted, however, Greene was the only affirmative vote.

Tyner made a motion for a return to the eight year revaluation cycle, and Commissioner Chester Deloatch seconded it. The vote was 4-1, with Greene being the only dissenting vote.

County Attorney Scott McKellar and County Manager Kimberly Turner will amend the current resolution to reflect the change to eight year revaluations, and then it will be signed by the Board of Commissioners.