ELIZABETHTOWN — The county tax office is gearing up for the upcoming revaluation cycle.
The revaluation process takes place every eight years in Bladen County, according to Bladen County Tax Administrator Chris Ellis, which means Bladen County is due to have its next revaluation in 2015.
“On Jan. 1, 2015, property values are going to change. I can't say whether the values are going up or if the values are going down,” said Ellis. “I can say they will change.”
The county has contracted with Assessment Solutions, owned by Tim Cain, the same company that performed the revaluations in 2007.
“His folks are already out in the field canvassing the county, collecting data, making sure that what's out there is being assessed and what has been removed is removed from the record,” said Ellis.
For example, Ellis said if a tax record reflects there should be a barn on a property, but for some reason that barn has been destroyed or torn down, if the tax office has not been notified, the property owner is in all likelihood still paying taxes on that building.
Ellis said when the appraisers prepare to place a value on a property, they are using what the market has been doing in the last 18 months. That information comes from real estate sales that have been completed in the county during that time, he said.
“We do want the taxpayers to be aware that our folks are clearly identified with vehicles, identification badges and shirts with the county or Assessment Solutions logos,” said Ellis. “They will be taking photos and some measurements and they may be knocking on doors. They are also leaving door hangars where no one is at home. We have a team in the field on a daily basis reviewing properties.”
Ellis said to have a team canvass the entire county, it takes about 12 months and Bladen County has approximately 32,000 parcels. He added no changes will occur to the property values until Jan. 1, 2015. He expects the field reviews to be completed by July 2014, then the staff will begin the process of entering the new values.
“Taxpayers will receive a notice of their new values by December 2014 and it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015,” said Ellis. “Once they get their notice, the taxpayers who desire to appeal the new value can do so upon receipt of the notice by coming to the tax office.”
Ellis said that the market will dictate the values and that there will be some adjustments to values once the revaluation is completed.
Ellis said the revaluation process goes in four- and eight-year cycles.
“The reason for the four-year cycles that are out there is that some counties didn't want to wait eight years to catch up with the values,” said Ellis. “The state law governing property taxes does not allow you to adjust the values between cycles.”
The last re-appraisal was performed in Bladen County in 2007 and the real estate market was “booming,” said Ellis. He said since that revaluation was performed, the recession hit and the values have taken a hit — but due to the law, the county has been unable to adjust the values until this reappraisal cycle.
“In 2013, the values are trying to come back. They are not back to where they were in 2007,” said Ellis.
He added that he hopes to begin a series of “town hall” style meetings during the revaluation process in various parts of the county to help folks to better understand the process.