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Board Bulletin

November  4, 2011

Abersham Park Property Naming Request

In accordance with the requirement to inform the Board of any potential naming or renaming requests, the Town of Davidson is preparing a request to name the Abersham park property.

In August, the Board approved the purchase of the 243 acre Abersham property in Davidson, N.C. The County recently closed on the property and a dedication ceremony is being planned by the Davidson Lands Conservancy (DLC) for Sunday, November 6, 2011 at a time to be determined. The County Park and Recreation Department has engaged the Town of Davidson in the naming process. As part of this process, the DLC initiated a naming contest of which the results are not yet known. Kathryn Spatz, the Town of Davidson Director of Parks and Recreation, informed County staff that the Town is considering other name options as well.

County Park and Recreation Director Jim Garges provided Ms. Spatz with a copy of the County’s naming policy and application and is working with the Town to follow the policy and process established by the Board.

Board members with questions should contact Jim Garges at 704-336-5470 or via email.

District/Community Meetings Protocol

Consistent with the County’s MeckConnect strategy to inform residents about County services, responsibilities and results and engage them in the governance of the community, County staff is organizing and/or providing support for district/community meetings. This includes meetings initiated by individual members of the Board. Board members who are interested in holding a meeting to inform and engage residents should contact Assistant to the County Manager Amber Snowden. Ms. Snowden will coordinate with other County staff to attend the meeting, based on the topic or topics to be discussed, as well as to arrange logistics for the meeting. She also will involve the County’s Public Service & Information staff to communicate notifications about and otherwise raise awareness of the meeting.

Two such meetings are being scheduled over the next few weeks as follows: November 10 from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the First Baptist West Oakmont Avenue Chapel; and December 1 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. at Steele Creek AME Zion Church. Topics planned for the meeting are Vision 20/20, update on property tax revaluation process, street vendor regulations, and restaurant sanitary ratings.

Please note that once filing begins for election to the Board of County Commissioners staff will not assist Board members with community meetings and/or attend meeting initiated or hosted by a Board member. Adherence to this protocol will avoid misinterpretations about staff endorsing or assisting the campaign or election of Board members or providing Board members with an advantage during election season. Any request from Board members for information pertaining to County business in preparation for such community meetings or events during election season will be made available on the County’s website so that all candidates have access to the same information.

Board members with questions should contact Amber Snowden at 704-336-6989 or via email.

Tax Bills and Pending

Some property owners with appeals pending have inquired as to whether they have to pay their property tax bill prior to the appeal being heard, and if so why.

State law (N.C.G.S.105-360) requires property tax be paid at par on September 1 of the fiscal year for which the taxes are levied. Taxes become delinquent on January 6 following the due date and interest begins to accrue at the rate of 2 percent for January and ¾ percent each month thereafter for any unpaid balance. No one has the authority to waive interest because it is a fixed legislative requirement with statewide application.

The law has limited provision with respect to the affect of taxes due and valuation adjustments. Senate Bill 76 amended N.C.G.S. 105-360 this year and now requires interest to be paid to property owners if the value of the property is reduced by order of the Board of Equalization and Review (BER) when the taxes have been paid. The interest is paid only on the amount of the overpayment. Overpayment of the tax bears interest at the rate of 2 percent for January and ¾ percent each month from the date the interest begins to accrue until the refund is paid. Interest accrues from the latter of the date the tax is paid and the date the tax would have been considered delinquent (January 6). A payment of interest also occurs when an order of the North Carolina Property Tax Commission reduces valuation for property appealed at that level, but only at the prevailing rate set by the Secretary of Revenue which is currently 5 percent.

Senate Bill 76 also amended N.C.G.S. 105-378 preventing the tax collector from enforcing collection on items appealed to the BER. However, enforcement restrictions do not stop the accrual of interest.

The taxpayer has the option to pay taxes in any amount prior to the delinquency date. If the assessed value changes as a result of an appeal, where taxes are paid, the property owner will receive a refund at par prior to the delinquency date. After the delinquency date, the interest on the taxes for the valuation change by the BER is paid with refund. The property owner is still responsible to pay the County interest for any unpaid taxes on the remaining valuation. If no reduction in value is made, property owners will have to pay the balance before January 5 to avoid any interest being charged on the unpaid portion. The rules relative to payment of taxes apply regardless of the payment option chosen by the taxpayer.

The BER will not hear all appeals by January 5. The BER has made only minor adjustments to overall property valuation. There are many property owners who have submitted appraisals and other information to the BER with confidence that it would result in a reduction in property value, yet upon review, the BER upheld the valuation because the information did not reflect market value on January 1, 2011. Therefore, the tax assessor advises that property owners should be cautious and not presume their information will ensure a value change after their hearing. Since interest cannot be waived, the decision to delay payment may cause more frustration to the property owner if the appeal is heard after the delinquency date and no change in value occurs. Therefore, property owners should make the determination that seems best to them based on how interest and taxes are assessed and collected.

Although the legislative calendar prevents any change to the controlling legislation for this revaluation cycle, staff will consult with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and the Tax Assessor's Association to explore alternatives that could be included in a future legislative agenda.

Board members with questions should contact Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander at 704-336-2976 or via email.

-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager





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