Updated Thursday, July 18
By DAVID BORAKS
The N.C. House of Representatives on Monday night approved a bill that requires Mecklenburg County to redo the flawed 2011 property revaluation and issue refunds – with interest – to any property owners overcharged.
The bill, Senate 159, was originally introduced by Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Cornelius). (State Rep. Bill Brawley (R-Matthews) had introduced the bill in the House.) It passed the House 112-0 on Monday after previously passing the Senate. An informal “concurrence” vote is scheduled Thursday in the Senate, which will send the bill to Gov. Pat McCrory, who is expected to sign it.
“Hopefully this corrects an egregious wrong,” Tarte said in an interview Tuesday. “It requires the county to clean the database and redo the 2011 revaluation in it is entirety, for both commercial and residential property owners.”
The legislation not only requires new appraisals, but also gives the county the authority to issue refunds, which are not allowed under the state law governing revaluations.
The Thursday vote will signal that the Senate concurs on the version of the bill that passed the House. Then the only question left about the revaluation bill is when Gov. McCrory might sign it. Tarte said he’s working with the governor’s office to come up with a date and location. Tarte hopes it can be as early as Friday, July 26, at Cornelius Town Hall, where the push to examine the reevaluation first began.
An outcry over the revaluation grew out of meetings in Cornelius, where lakefront property owners questioned high or widely varying appraisals in the 2011 revaluation. Their allegations eventually became a chorus of critics around the county demanding refunds for property owners who were overcharged.
Pearson’s Appraisal Service, a consultant hired by the Mecklenburg County Commission last year found flaws with the revaluation – including a lack of equity in appraisals within neighborhoods.
Tarte said Monday’s vote lets citizens “finally know that they can depend on their government. It’s for the people – not the other way around – and when we see something done incorrectly we’ll try to correct it.”
The 2011 revaluation do-over now becomes a budget issue for both Mecklenburg County and area towns: They’ll have to come up with money for refunds.
“It’s going to end up being a massive amount of money that they’re going to have to return to taxpayers, that they took,” Tarte said.
Of course some property owners may end up owing more as some properties are revalued upward. Tarte said he thinks that’s a relatively small number.
He said most local governments are likely to dip into reserves to pay refunds.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to note that an informal “concurrence” vote is required before the bill can go to the governor.
MORE ABOUT THE BILL
See the bill text and history on the N.C. Legislature website, NCLeg.net.
Read past coverage of the revaluation issue on CorneliusNews.net.