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County Holds Called Meeting to Form Equalization Board

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by Blake Proctor

2022 will be the year for property tax revaluations in Bladen County. In preparation of this, the County Commission met in a called session at 5:30 pm Monday, April 6th, to form a new Board of Equalization and Review to review tax lists for errors, to hear property owners’ appeals on revised tax values, and to consider exemptions and exclusions from tax liabilities.

Although the Commissioners will be sitting as the members of this Board, they will actually constitute a separate legal authority apart from their oaths as Commissioners. Therefore, Niki Dennis, Clerk of Superior Court, swore each member in just as when they were elected to the Commission, and with the same paperwork.

After “swearing and affirming,” the new Board was schooled by Tax Administrator Renee Davis on the rules and responsibilities under state statute and its duties and powers, as well as the accountability of its individual members.

Under state statute, Tax Assessments are presumed to be correct. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility, then, to provide evidence to the contrary to the Board of Equalization and Review. After hearing that evidence, the Board’s duty is to either grant or deny the petition; that decision may be made immediately or after further review.

The law stipulates that the Board’s decision shall be made on the evidence only; no standing may be given to such circumstances as a relationship with or the reputation of the petitioner; or to the percentage change the in appraised amount; or to the ability or inability to pay the assessed taxes.

What many taxpayers do not realize is that taxes are collected “in arrears,” that is, the taxes you are billed in one year are for the taxes owed from the previous year. Therefore, the basic appraisal rules articulate that January 1st of each year is the “listing and valuation date.”

If, for example, your new home or commercial building is finished and you are able to move in on January 1st, you will owe taxes in that year; on the other hand, should the structure not be placed on the tax rolls until January 2nd, you will not be taxed until the following year.

On the other hand, an appraised value may change due to a proven error in the original appraisal, a physical alteration of the property, or a zoning change that may enhance or bring down the property’s market value.

Additionally, “market value” should not be confused with “construction cost,” “historical cost,” “insurance value,” “depreciated asset value,” or such things as “inheritance value.”

Completing her introductory lesson, Ms. Davis recommended consideration of the Board meeting at 6 pm prior to the County Commission meetings of April 19th and May 3rd. Seeming duly impressed with Ms. Davis’ presentation, her recommendation was unanimously approved.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:11 pm.

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