LUMBERTON — Hurricane Matthew will affect the results of Robeson County’s 2018 revaluation, but the county’s tax administrator says it’s far too early to know the extent.
Tax Administrator Cindy Lowry said Thursday that each property damaged as a result of Matthew is having to be appraised one-by-one to readjust values. The problem facing the revaluation process is how to handle properties where values will change significantly as improvements are made during the next several months.
“This is the first time we have had to deal with this kind of situation,” Lowry said. “Matthew is making things a little different this time.”
Lowry, whose department is conducting the revaluation, said that its purpose is to ensure that all real property within a given area is assessed at 100 percent market value, thus equalizing the tax burden and making it fair to all property owners.
“We are trying to make sure everyone is treated the same,” said Lowry. “… As a result of the revaluation the value of one’s property may increase, not change, or decrease.”
State law has required that a countywide revaluation be held in each of the state’s 100 counties at least once every eight years, although that has currently changed. Some counties are now being required to conduct revaluations at least once every six years and some every four years, Lowry said.
Robeson County’s last revaluation was in 2010, with the one before that being carried out in 2005.
Lowry defined a property being at market value as the price that a willing seller and able buyer agree to in a fair transaction in an open market.
The reappraisal process includes checking properties for such things as new buildings, additions to buildings, remodeling changes, and removal of buildings that are no longer located on the property.
Lowry said that the revaluation process is just now getting under way with the collection of qualified data of property sales over the past few years. The sale prices and property values of similar properties in a given area are compared and adjustments made to bring property values to market value.
According to the county’s Geographic Information System,) Robeson County has 77,922 parcels. These parcels include 560 identified neighborhoods, or areas that contain such characteristics as similarly structured homes and land features.
Lowry said that to assist county appraisers, Ronald McCarthy, of Lincolnton-based RS&M Appraisal Services Inc., has been hired to collect the data and determine values of the county’s large business and commercial properties. He performed the same work for the county during the 2010 revaluation.
“Mr. McCarthy is very well known throughout the state for the excellent work he does,” Lowry said.
According to Lowry, since the last revaluation, the county Tax Office has implemented new services to assist in the revaluation process. Among these services are: updated GIS system; use of new Ortho Photography (2012 aerial photos); captured digital photographs of primary structures; and updated records of all properties in Robeson County.
The new appraised values become effective on Jan. 1, 2018, and will be reflected in the tax bill property owners receive in July 2018. Property owners will be notified of the new appraised values in February 2018 and if they feel the value placed on their property is substantially higher than market value, they can appeal the value.
The county’s tax rate, which is now 77 cents for every $100 of property, is set by the county Board of Commissioners. A tax rate typically is adjusted downward after revaluation because most properties appreciate in their value.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.