Board to hear over 1,000 reappraisal appeals

Photo by Alphonso Abbott Jr.- Board of Equalization and Review Chairman Richard N. Davis speaks as the board considers an item involving a local dentist’s office.

Board to hear over 1,000 reappraisal appeals
July 06
04:00 2017

The Board of Equalization and Review (BER) is preparing to hear more than 1,000 appeals to the county’s real estate tax reappraisals.

The BER is a five-member citizen board that’s appointed by the Forsyth County commissioners that provides oversight to the reappraisal process and has the authority to change property values. The board will be hearing formal appeals from property owners who feel that their reappraisal didn’t reflect their property value. Reappraisals are done every four years in Forsyth, using qualified sales and the condition of the property to estimate its value.

The board’s current make up is Chairman Richard N. Davis, Maybeth Abdow, Doug Dampier, David E. Shaw and William V. White. All the members have a background in real estate, including two certified appraisers and a real estate agent.

“The county commissioners try to appoint people to this board who have actual working knowledge of real estate in one form or another so they can intelligently make decisions regarding property values and give taxpayers of this county the type of representation they deserve,” said Davis, a longtime accountant who’s served on the board for more than 20 years.

The board meeting on June 30, which was this year’s deadline for filing reappraisal appeals, was short. They heard from a representative of Dentist Dr. Kenneth Sadler asking that a $5,000 penalty be waived stemming from the business accidentally reporting its property value incorrectly. The board unanimously voted to waive the fee. The BER also voted unanimously to lower the value of seven properties in Haddington Village in Kernersville after staff found that those homes had been over assessed.

Next up, the BER will be hearing formal appeals. This will take place in regular meetings held for the rest of the year and possibly through the end of March 2018. As of Friday, there were 1,081 formal appeals, with more coming from mailed notices.

It’s a 20-year low for appeals in Forsyth. In 2013, when 90 percent of properties lost value due to the real estate downturn, there were 2,590 formal appeals and in 2009 there were 3,517. This year’s reappraisal found that 70 percent of properties rose in value and 62 percent of properties were within 10 percent of their previous value.

Still, even this year, reappraisals are controversial, with some residents saying that certain African-American communities are still seeing large drops in their property values.

The City Council passed a resolution asking the BER to look into the reappraisal process and its effects on black communities. The BER did hear overviews on the reappraisal process and on two neighborhoods the city had concerns about. It determined it had no authority to change the reappraisal process, which is approved by county commissioners and follows state statute. The BER offered to send tax staff to give talks on reappraisals and take appeals, which they did at two events at the city’s request. Those events resulted in four appeals and two requests for senior citizen exemptions to lower what they pay in taxes. Davis asked that a report be prepared and presented to the City Council on the county’s response to its request.

Davis said being on the board is “no picnic” since property value appeals, which may involve lowering or raising the value, can be passionate issues. He said he’s gotten calls at home cursing him out about the actions of the board and has had some people try to give him appeals over the phone.

Davis said the board is not a rubber stamp for the county and tries to give fair, careful consideration to taxpayers making appeals. Abdow, a certified appraiser who’s been on the board more than 15 years, said they don’t always please everyone, but they do their best to explain their decisions to those making appeals.

“They will walk out with an understanding,” she said.

Those who filed an appeal are notified by mail on when the BER will hear it. The meetings, which normally take place on the second Thursday of the month at 3 p.m. at the County Government Center, are also advertised. The results of the appeal are mailed to the property owner, even if they attended the meeting, with information on how to appeal to the N.C. Property Tax Commission.  N.C. Superior Court is the next level of appeal after the commission. Appeals can also be made yearly, so property values can be appealed next year as well.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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