LUMBERTON — Robeson County property owners have been finding out in recent days how much the county thinks their property is worth when it comes to paying taxes.
The Robeson County Tax Office, as part of the 2018 revaluation of property, has sent 69,478 letters to homeowners advising them of their property’s new value, and 3,738 to business owners. For those who want to appeal the Tax Office’s finding, the process is explained on the form, and there is also a three-minute video detailing it on the county’s website.
According to Cindy Lowery, Tax Office supervisor, the total value of businesses and residences in Robeson County came to just shy of $6.3 billion — $6,290,165,564 to be exact. That compares with $5,855,724,323 in 2010, the last time a revaluation was conducted, an increase of about 7.5 percent.
Revaluations are required by state law at least once every eight years, and are intended to keep property values equitable.
While the growth was slow, mostly because of stagnant values, County Manager Ricky Harris pointed to northern neighbor Cumberland County, whose revaluation last year showed a decrease in property values, forcing a property tax increase from 74 to 79.9 cents for every $100 of property.
The revaluation in the past has been farmed out, but was conducted in-house this time at a cost of about $500,000. Harris said that is comparable to the cost of contracting it out.
The revaluation will be used by the county Board of Commissioners in June when its decides a tax rate for next year’s budget, which takes effect on July 1. The county’s current tax rate, which is 77 cents for every $100 of value, was established in the 2011-12 year and has stayed steady since, and ranks 25th highest of the 100 counties.
If it were to stay the same, it would raise about $48 million in revenue for the county coffers based on the $6.3 billion figure. But that figure will likely come down as appeals are heard.
Lowry said the Tax Office used nine certified appraisers who worked with a private company to conduct the revaluation.
She said there are three ways to value property: sales approach, cost approach, and income approach.
“We used the sales approach, which is recognized as the most common, true and accurate way to value property,” she said. “Property was determined by sales of similar or like properties. Sales of real property have been collected since 2010, however, more emphasis was placed on the last three years of sales.
“These sales form the basis of the 2018 revaluation. It measures the real estate market. Our real estate appraisers have been working building permits since 2010 and they have also reviewed the listing forms that have been returned every year that states new construction or changes to the property. Our revaluation staff used their data to do the analysis to the neighborhoods.”
She said Robeson County has 566 neighborhoods identified and they can be as large as 1,000-plus homes or as few as eight to 10.
“A neighborhood is a geographical area where ‘most’ properties share similar characteristics,” she said. “They are homogeneous. Some of the neighborhoods increased in value, some decreased in value and some changed very little.”
On the notices that were mailed property owners, there is a form with instructions on how to appeal.
“If after receiving notice of your assessed value, if you feel the appraised value substantially exceeds what the property would sell for, or it is not appraised like similar properties in your area, you have a number of steps you can take in the appeal process,” Lowry said.
— An informal appeal by completing and returning the appeal form attached to your notice of value.
— If you are not satisfied with the new adjusted value, or the value was not changed, you may appeal to the local Board of Equalization and Review.
— If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Board of Equalization and Review, you may appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission located in Raleigh.
— If you are not satisfied with the decision of the North Carolina Property Tax Commission, you may appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]