By Jesse Wood
May 24, 2013. Watauga County Tax Administrator Larry Warren, on Friday morning, updated High Country Press on the tax revaluation currently taking place.
Warren said the reval process is right on schedule with about 22,000 – or 45 percent – of the estimated 48,500 property parcels in Watauga County evaluated so far.
The last time the reval occurred was in 2006, before the Great Recession happened, and two prior Watauga County Board of Commissioners, hoping property values would increase with time, postponed the revaluation as long as state law allowed.
Not knowing what the revaluation has in store for county revenues, more than one commissioner has been reluctant to fork over funds, whether those dollars be for additional nonprofit allocations or concern costs for the proposed business park along N.C. 194, where the county has agreed to purchase nearly 200 acres contingent upon what is found during the inspection period.
“I think the commissioners will be happy with the results,” Warren said.
He added that while he expects property values on Beech Mountain and higher priced homes in Blowing Rock to come in a “little depressed” compared to 2006, his staff has noticed that properties in Foscoe, for example, have increased in value.
“And the new apartments being constructed will add a lot, too,” Warren said. “So I think we will be OK.”
In February, Warren spoke before the commissioners during a budget retreat and gave the board an update on the process, stating that evaluated parcels were “stable” compared to 2006. At the time, only 4,400 parcels had been evaluated and most of those concerned rural properties on the outskirts of the county.
Appraisers are still conducting evaluations on the outer edges of the county, but Warren added that Beech Mountain and Foscoe areas have been evaluated as well. One of the appraisers is currently working on commercial properties in Boone, too.
The Tax Appraisal Department has four county-employed appraisers working on the reval process and the county has hired three contractors – Cecil Suddreth, Traci Hovis and Jake Lackey – to assist in the revaluation of residential properties and RS&M Appraisals to assist primarily with commercial properties.
Warren said that the contractors are paid $4 per property card; each property evaluated has one card. According to County Finance Director Margaret Pierce, $175,000 is currently budgeted on the residential and commercial appraisals during the reval process.
The revaluation will be effective Jan. 1, 2014. Property owners will receive a notice in the mail about their property’s revaluation at the beginning of the year, Warren said.