Some homeowners challenge county's assessment of property value

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C,None — It was standing-room only Wednesday morning for the latest round of hearings for the citizen-run Board of Equalization and Review in Mecklenburg County’s property value appeal process.

Chairman Jim Barnett laid the ground rules, beginning a 12- to 16-hour day hearing 75 revaluation appeals.

David Traynor challenged the $806,000 value put on the house he owns in Myers Park.

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The county took a second look and dropped it by $120,000.

“I felt basically from the beginning that I'd get a fair hearing,” Traynor said.

David and Cassandra Wagner still aren’t so sure. They're challenging the million-dollar value put on their house.

“We simply know that our house is not worth what the county thinks it is,” David Wagner said.

So how is it that the county is now dropping values on some houses?

“The appeals process helps to uncover things we might not have known on the date of the valuation,” said Mecklenburg County Assessor Garrett Alexander.

At a house near Freedom Park, county appraisers saw building permits had been pulled but didn't realize the renovations planned never took place. The homeowner appealed and was successful.

The county lowered the value there by $75,000, a reduction of about 25 percent.

Attorney Marc Gustafson, who represented that homeowner, said despite criticism, he believes the process is working.

“I really think it helps to have that community panel -- that community board that's there independent of the county,” Gustafson said.

The assessor’s office said it's reducing values most often because of factors that couldn’t be seen by appraisers from the outside.

By law, nearby foreclosures are not a reason for reductions.

At this point, about a quarter of appeals are ending with a reduction in the value.

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