Wake Board agrees on money for property appraisers, argues over chairman’s comment on tax increase

mquillin@newsobserver.comOctober 22, 2013 

— The adage that it takes money to make money proves true in Wake County when it comes time for real property revaluations.

County commissioners approved a plan Monday to spend up to $4.88 million to hire as many as 10 temporary appraisers from 2014 through mid-2016. The extra appraisers will talk with property owners, set land values and help with informal appeals on the county’s 2016 revaluation.

Marcus Kinrade, county revenue director, told commissioners that the department is a lean machine, keeping up with nearly as many individual parcels of land as Mecklenburg County has, with fewer than half as many appraisers. They work so efficiently by relying on technology such as aerial photography and GIS mapping.

But, Kinrade said, there is no substitute for having humans in the field looking at buildings, especially in older, established neighborhoods where conditions – and therefore values – can change significantly in the eight-year intervals between property revaluations.

The county will hire the appraisers through Pearson’s Appraisal Services, which helped with the county’s 2000 and 2008 revaluations.

Each revaluation, Kinrade said, requires more work than the last because more properties are subdivided and developed as the county’s population grows.

Appraisers are expected to begin working in early 2014, and property owners should get notices of their revaluations in January or February of 2016.

Testy exchange

Monday’s meeting turned contentious when Commissioner Caroline Sullivan asked for clarification from County Manager David Cooke on the potential effects of raising taxes incrementally to pay for the recently passed school construction bond issue.

The day after voters approved raising property taxes to pay for $810 million in school construction bonds, commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan said that the board would discuss the possibility of staggering a property tax increase of nearly 5 cents over several years rather than imposing it all in one year.

Before Cooke could answer, Bryan responded angrily, telling Sullivan that she had had several opportunities outside the meeting to ask him about the proposal. Since she waited to do it there, he said, “I can only assume it’s politically motivated.”

When he was given a chance to discuss the different models of tax increases, Cooke reminded the board that it won’t have to decide until next year whether to raise taxes all at once or incrementally, and by then, it will know more about the interest rates the county will have to pay on the bonds sold, and the tax revenues it can expect.

Bryan apologized to citizens and said that if he needed to communicate better, “I’ll improve.”

Quillin: 919-829-8989

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