Local News

Cumberland homeowners steamed over revaluation

Posted March 5, 2009 1:02 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— Complaints have been pouring into the Cumberland County tax collector's office all week after a revaluation sent property assessments up by as much as 30 percent.

The revaluation notices arrived in homeowners' mailboxes last weekend. Through Wednesday, 886 people called the tax collector's office to complain.

"I didn't think it was right," Rosa Gore said after noticing the assessed value of her home jumped by 30 percent.

"If I was able to move out of that property and sell that property for the amount that they evaluated it, I would be very happy," Gore said.

Tax Administrator Aaron Donaldson said Cumberland County's last revaluation in 2003 led to the same kind of response. Six years ago, assessed property values increased by an average of 15 percent, he said.

"Home values prior to our 2003 revaluation were fairly stable, but 2004, 2005, 2006 and even 2007 were particularly strong years for our market," Donaldson said. "We experienced quite a bit of appreciation during that time."

County property appraisers have assessed all 128,598 properties over the past two to three years, and Donaldson said the higher assessed values in this year's revaluation reflect the healthy real estate market in the Fayetteville area.

Unlike many markets across the country where real estate prices have plummeted in the past year, growth at Fort Bragg has kept the Fayetteville market stable.

"Even though there's been a dip in the economy in the last several months, we still have had a healthy increase in the home values," Donaldson said.

Property owners have a month to appeal their new assessed values. They can send an appeal in the mail, or go to the Cumberland County Courthouse and talk to representatives of the tax collector's office in person.

"I got the appeal ready, and I'm going in there to tell them I want to speak about it," Gore said. "I’m here to let them know I have checked it, and I think they’ve gotten me overrated.”

The tax rate for Cumberland County is 86 cents per $100 valuation, but the county Board of Commissioners could roll that back this spring to reflect the higher assessed values.

The Board of Commissioners would like to enact a revenue-neutral tax rate for next year, meaning it would take in as much money as it does now, but Commissioner Breeden Blackwell said it's too soon to say that will happen.

“I think the board wants to do it, but I think that would be premature to say we’ll lower the rate," Blackwell said. “The revenue picture is too murky."

For example, he said, county officials are still waiting to see how much sales tax they will receive from the holiday shopping season.