Commissioners continue studying legal ramifications of 2011 property revaluation process

by: Jeff Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Mecklenburg County Commissioners decided Tuesday night to continue studying the legal ramifications of asking for refunds due to the disastrous 2011 property revaluation process.

Thousands of homeowners were over-taxed on their property bills because of what an independent appraiser called a faulty revaluation process.

Giving select property owners a tax refund would be a retroactive decision that requires legislative approval, and commissioners decided against asking the county attorney to seek it at this time.

This revaluation re-consideration is an incredibly complicated process, and it appeared on Tuesday that many county commissioners were frustrated by it. Many homeowners were confused by it.

And the question is still out there -- what will change, specifically, to help homeowners who were wronged?

An independent appraisal service called Pearson's found dozens of problems during last year's revaluations -- where some homeowners saw property taxes spike 200 percent or more.

Pearson's final report admitted many homes -- especially in the county's fastest-growing neighborhoods -- were grossly overvalued. They also observed that county appraisers often didn't even go to the neighborhoods to evaluate the property in person.

Commissioners on Tuesday voted to pay Pearson's to study more neighborhoods in the county and look for similar errors.

"I think the assessor's office will never be run the same way as they did in the past. The next revaluation will be done in a better way," said Cornelius Barb Scott, who believes she was unfairly taxed.

"But the big disappointment for me is that there is no statement that says we are going to fix what happened to taxpayers, where the rubber meets the road, by giving them refunds," she added.

County commissioners also agreed that the county's property appeals board should be replaced, but there's no timetable for getting that done.

"I'm disappointed they didn't do that," said Myers Park homeowner Kathy Davis.

And the elephant in the room wasn't even addressed -- will the homeowners who were over-taxed get refunds? That would take legislative approval, and commissioners didn't ask for it.

That put many homeowners at a loss for words.

"I see it more as backpedaling instead of punting. Well, I guess kicking the can down the road, that's what everyone says," Scott said.

Pearson's new study will cost about $180,000 of taxpayer money. Another meeting will be in about three months.