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November 26, 2014

CATAWBA COUNTY TO MAIL NOTICES OF NEW PROPERTY VALUES RESULTING FROM 2015 REVALUATION

The Catawba County Tax Office is preparing to mail notices of new property values determined through the 2015 property revaluation. Owners of property in Catawba County should begin receiving notices during the week of December 1, 2014. The new property values go into effect on January 1, 2015. (Note: the notices being mailed are not tax bills; they are statements of property value and do not reflect the amount of property tax owed by property owners.)

“New property values are established by citizens who buy and sell real estate in the open market,” said Mark Logan, Catawba County Tax Administrator. “They are not set by the County’s appraisers or the Tax Office. The appraisers’ job is to carefully research and analyze real estate sales in our local market to determine an estimate of market value for all properties, as we are required to do by North Carolina law.”

County appraisers examined and verified the past two and a half years’ worth of sales data, ensuring that all sales included in the analysis reflects market transactions between willing buyers and sellers and – consistent with best appraisal practices in North Carolina - disregarding data reflecting foreclosures, sales between family members or sales made under duress, etc.

“Catawba County’s last revaluation went into effect January 1, 2011. The revaluation process takes about two and a half years to complete,” Logan added. “The new values determined by the 2015 revaluation of all property classes - including residential, commercial, and industrial - are on average around 5.40% less than values from the previous 2011 revaluation. Residential properties went down 3.30% on average, commercial properties went down 9.52% on average, and industrial properties went down 14.33% on average. The actual percentage change in value of individual properties may vary based upon factors such as specific location, age, and physical condition.”

This trend in values is not fully representative of the total picture, however, as other significant components of the County’s tax base include business and personal property and motor vehicles, for which final valuation numbers are not yet available.

“In the past two years, the majority of counties across the state conducting revaluations have seen their values reduced to reflect the effects of the recession on the real estate market in the region,” Logan stated. “The declining values experienced in Catawba County as a result of this countywide revaluation are not unique. However, while – as dictated by State law – revaluation takes into account valid sales over the past 4 years, it should be noted that the most recent sales over the past few quarters have shown a slight but markedly positive uptick.”

Property owners who wish to appeal the new value of their property have several avenues for appeal available to them under County procedures and State law. Property owners appeal most often due to an adverse physical condition of the property, an incorrect description of the property’s features, or the property owner’s belief that the new value is not consistent with the value of similar properties in similar locations.

Informal appeals will be handled by Catawba County revaluation staff beginning in early December 2014. To schedule an informal appeal, property owners may call 828-465-8436, or may complete and return (either by mail or by email to RevaluationAppeal@catawbacountync.gov ) a tear-off form included with the notice of new value. Results of informal appeals will be mailed in March 2015.

Property owners whose appeal is not resolved through the initial informal process, and any other property owners wishing to formally appeal the new values, may request a hearing before the local Catawba County Board of Equalization and Review, which will meet beginning in April 2015.
If, after a hearing before the Board of Equalization and Review, the issue is still not resolved, any taxpayer may appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission, and then to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

North Carolina law requires all counties to complete a property revaluation at least once every eight years. Beginning in 1999, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners adopted a four-year revaluation cycle. More frequent revaluations not only ensure assessments reflect current market values, but also provide the opportunity in the year a revaluation is held for citizens to appeal valuations based upon economic reasons.

“The 2015 countywide revaluation was conducted by Catawba County employees familiar with the County, not by an outside appraisal company,” Logan said. “Each appraiser on our revaluation staff is certified by the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the North Carolina Association of Assessing Officers.”

The 2015 revaluation does not set a property tax rate, which is used to calculate the amount of tax each property owner will owe. The tax rate is set each year by the Catawba County Board of Commissioners as a part of its budget process, which will occur in June 2015.

Comprehensive information about the County’s 2015 property revaluation is available on the Catawba County website at http://www.catawbacountync.gov/tax/revaluation.asp

New property values will also be available on Monday, December 1, 2014, on the Catawba County website at http://gis.catawbacountync.gov/nomap/

For more information on the revaluation, citizens may also call 828-465-8436.