Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Augusta County real estate assessments to go up 33%?

Pastures Supervisor Tracy Pyles asked for a two-year delay in mailing new real estate assessments to residents of Augusta County ... but that probably will not happen after the board of assessors suggested the reassessments be mailed in November.

The shocker ... reassessments are up one-third! The real estate market is stagnant ... yet home values are going to be taxed another 33% while all taxable properties will increase 43%.

At a time when the economy is unstable, the stock market is jittery, and hard times have hit America's work force, Supervisor Pyles felt it was best to let economic matters stabilize before burdening Augusta County residents with increased taxes.

In my neighborhood, home turnovers have been quick throughout the years ... it was actually difficult to find something for sale. Over the past twelve months, however, homes have gone on the market and are still sitting. We currently have three houses and one parcel of land for sale, the most I have seen in the twelve years I have lived here.

Taxpayer rage has already been felt in neighboring Bath County when reassessments went out earlier this year with some values up 1,000%. The Roanoke Times reported:
Following a public outcry at the first revaluations since 2005 -- some rising 1,000 percent -- county supervisors voted to terminate the appraiser's contract and stick with the previous assessments. Taxpayer rage took a heavy toll on public officials.
The appraisal company that was terminated was the same one used by Augusta County -- Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal. The Times continued:
When the next assessments do come, they won't be nearly as high as the ones rescinded in March, said Byrd, who asserted that the company responsible for those evaluations, Staunton-based Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal, didn't allow for the real estate market's slump of the past year.

Pat Haynes, a real estate broker in Hot Springs, said high-end houses are now staying on the market a year or more. "The market is soft. A lot of people are sitting on the sidelines, including those from outside."

But David Hickey, the owner of Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal, said his assessors analyzed comparable sales of homes and land across the county from 2004 through the past few months. "There hasn't been a decline in values. People in Bath County might read about the housing market collapsing in California or Las Vegas and they think that's happening to them, but it isn't."

Residents retort that the reassessments must have had their rustic retreat confused with some stylish hot spot.
Bath and Augusta counties have been affected by more affluent residents moving in from outside the area, driving up house prices and property values for others.

The Augusta County Board of Supervisors will vote on Wednesday night whether to mail out reassessments. Bob Stuart has more in the Waynesboro News Virginian.

Let your voice be heard! Pat Coffield, County Administrator, can be reached at (540) 245-5600. Supervisors should be notified if anyone has thoughts on this matter.

- Jeremy Shifflett, Beverley Manor
Cell Phone: 540.294.2289
E-mail: Jeremy Shifflett

- Gerald Garber, Middle River
Home: (540) 234-8388

- Larry Howdyshell, North River
Home: (540) 350-2591

- Tracy Pyles, Pastures
Home: (540) 337-7010

- Nancy Sorrells, Riverheads
Home: (540) 377-6390

- David Beyeler, South River
Home: (540) 943-3202

- Wendell Coleman, Wayne
Home: (540) 430-1350


Anonymous said...

The assessments are not the primary issue. Once they go out, the county (by state law) has to reduce the tax rate to the equalized level (i.e., the Augusta Tax rate would, if memory serves, fall from 58 cents to 43-44 cents). Then the BOS has to hold a publich hearing to get constituents' views before jacking the rate back up again (we had a similar deal in Spotsy last year, where assessments rose 10%).

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

DJ, I'll have to defer to you if that is the process ... but the fact remains that Supervisor Pyles wants to postpone assessments for two years because of the shaky financial situation at this time.

Interestingly enough, Supervisor Pyles is a Democrat. Two of the supervisors are (left-leaning) independents; the rest are Republicans.

Anonymous said...

A postponement is fine; my point was that if the postponement idea fails, there is still a way for Augusta to avoid a tax increase - if the BOS is willing to make the hard decisions necessary (Only 3 Supes in Spotsy were, and that was 1 short).

This is the time for the Augusta GOP to lean on its 4 Supes - and hard.

Davos said...


Davos said...

The Housing market took quite the hit in 2008:

“The U.S. housing market lost $3.3 trillion in value last year and almost one in six owners with mortgages owed more than their homes were worth as the economy went into recession, Zillow.com said.

The median estimated home price declined 11.6 percent in 2008 to $192,119 and homeowners lost $1.4 trillion in value in the fourth quarter alone, the Seattle-based real estate data service said in a report today.

About $6.1 trillion of value has been lost since the housing market peaked in the second quarter of 2006 and last year’s decline was almost triple the $1.3 trillion lost in 2007, Zillow said.”

Funny, I kept hearing that prices never go down in real Estate.

I’ll dig up a chart on this later . . .