Assessments come and assessments go ... so why the big fuss this year? The financial environment, in my opinion. Lost jobs. Decreased incomes. Company cut-backs. Stock market losses. Retirement savings cut in half.
My husband is a Teamster. They took a 10% cut in salary the first of the year to help the companies they work for. Trucking is down because orders are down. People are buying less ... stores are ordering less ... trucking companies are hauling less. Just about everyone is touched in some way by what is occurring in this financial climate.
In the midst of this, reassessment envelopes arrived and many properties, especially those that have land, jumped in value. Keep in mind home prices decreased 18% in the last quarter of 2008, and housing starts are the lowest they've been since 1959.
Alton Foley at I'm Not Emeril wrote a post today about Patrick County's real estate issue. I got a call from a woman in Washington County ... they are dealing with this very issue right now. Washington County had the same accessor as Augusta. Not sure who did Patrick County's assessments.
Augusta Patrick County citizens are up in arms over their latest property assessments. Well, to be a bit more accurate, they are upset over their latest property tax bill.One thing I disagree with Alton about, however. He concluded his post by saying it's not the accessor's fault; it's the Board of Supervisors' fault.
I think it's the fault of both.
Many questions have been raised about how accessment values were arrived at by the accessing company ... how could all lots in a subdivision be valued the same no matter the size or view ... how could properties with huge electrical towers be valued the same as similar properties without that intrusion ... how could a septic field be valued the same as a building lot ... and on and on and on.
The Board of Supervisors appears to want to pass the buck. Only one supervisor has taken a stand to roll back accessments to the 2005 values or to try and find another way to help county residents.
I remember the 2005 assessments. Many property values around here skyrocketed. The combination of having that happen again just four years later, and the financial climate, probably both played into the huge outcry from the public this time.
The Augusta County supervisors meeting is tomorrow night -- Wednesday, March 11 -- at the Government Center in Verona. Petitions with thousands of names will be turned in. Churchville attorney Francis Chester will address the board. Supervisor Tracy Pyles will again try to persuade his co-supervisors to find a way to help taxpayers. Augusta Citizens Against Unfair Assessments will be there to address the board. It could even be billed a tea party of protest against higher property taxes.