LEE COUNTY: Property tax appeals process draws to close

May. 11, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

The county board tasked with reviewing the 2013 property tax value appeals is set to wind down in the coming week.

The Lee County Board of Equalization and Review began meeting in April and officially adjourned on the afternoon of May 1. The board has continued to meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to consider property owner’s appeals, but the official adjournment means it is no longer accepting any more appeals past May 1, according to Lee County Tax Administrator May Yow. There were approximately 350 official appeals made to the board, up from 264 during the last property tax revaluation in 2007. More than 1,700 informal appeals were made — during which property owners met with county appraisers to discuss adjusting their property values.

“We are still getting some appeals that are postmarked before the deadline,” Yow said.

The board may need to meet a few more days in the coming week to deliberate and finalize a few things, but it is close to being done, she said. Information regarding the number of appeals  in which the board sided with the property owner or the county is not available until the end of the appeal process, Yow said.

E&R Board Chairman Mike McDonald said the process has gone smoothly so far.

“We want to look at each case we deal with fairly,” McDonald said. “We’ve made adjustments in the taxpayer’s favor whenever we can.”

Reviewing residential appeals has been easier because of the number of comparable sales — sales of similar houses in the same area — as opposed to larger and unique corporations, McDonald said.

“Other properties like Coty or even the hospital are more challenging,” he said. “And in the Tramway area, we’ve seen a lot of appeals because of the increased commercial business there.”

Property owners are permitted to bring in any information that might help convince the board to reduce the tax, McDonald said.

“The economy has been bad, and people can’t believe that property values have gone up,” he said.

The newly assessed tax value for a property is based on actual sales of similar properties and not, as some may believe, on the listing price of similar parcels, McDonald said.

All of the board’s decisions are mailed to the appealing property owner within 30 days, he said, but many know the day the appeal case appears before the board or they receive their notice soon after. If property owners are not satisfied with the county’s decision, they may appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission.

While the numbers are still being adjusted from the appeals, Lee County Manager John Crumpton said he expects the county to net $70 million in increased property tax revenues.