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County adjusts revaluation process

Staff Writer

Lincoln County residents can expect a change for the 2015 property-revaluation process.
Tax Administrator Kep Kepley presented a request before the Board of Commissioners Monday night for funding, in the amount of $76,000 over a two-year period, to allow the Tax Office to visit all properties when conducting appraisals.
The additional funding, which was unanimously approved, will go toward two contract employees to help complete the time-consuming “walk-arounds” between October of this year and next. The workers will be paid on a per-parcel basis.
The last time all of the county’s properties, including residential, industrial and commercial, were visited for a revaluation was 1992, Kepley said. He believes doing so again will not only allow for more thorough and accurate information, but it will also “give people a better feel” since they’ll have the chance to talk to the appraisers.
“Visiting each parcel will enable the Tax Office staff to meet with property owners/residents to build confidence in the revaluation, correct information and open lines of communication,” he wrote in a memo to the board. “Owners will know their property was properly inspected and all aspects of value were considered in assessing value.”
In the past, walk-arounds were typically only conducted for new construction. Changes to properties were often picked up through permits.
“We must do a better job now more than ever of promoting the revaluation and the county’s efforts to assess fairly and equitably,” Kepley wrote in a memo to County Manager Tracy Jackson in reference to recent problems incurred by Mecklenburg County regarding the process.
Likewise, rather than doing a sampling of properties, he said, it would be more fair to visit all of them.
He additionally said he does not anticipate the county making any money off the move and that it wouldn’t be necessary every cycle.
Kepley hopes the property visits — which will include a walk-around of the structure’s exterior as well as a few questions for the owners — will also lead to fewer problems down the road.
“We’re shooting for less appeals,” he noted.
Commissioners expressed some concern over those properties with “no-trespassing” signs, particularly for the safety of the Tax Office employees. While legally, appraisers can go onto such properties, Kepley said they can try to contact those residents and get permission or set up appointments instead, should the board prefer.
Appraisers will also travel in county-marked vehicles and put up metal signs noting their presence in a particular area.
If a property owner isn’t home, a questionnaire will be left at the door.
“We should have been doing that in the past,” Commissioner Carrol Mitchem said of the property visits.
In other Board of Commission action at Monday’s meeting:
Commissioners postponed the second vote on revisions to their ordinance regulating “special events and mass gatherings” to regulate film and TV productions in the area.
Commissioners approved the purchase of equipment for various pump stations and an excavator.
Commissioners signed off on executing a contract for engineering services, upon final approval of CDBG and Rural Center grants, which will allow for water utilities at Denver Global Products’ eventual industrial campus.
Commissioner Jim Klein was recognized for his service on the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ Board of Directors and its Fund Balance Task Force.
A closed session was conducted, but no action was taken.

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