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Reassessment brings rise in values

Prince Edward County’s reassessment of property values has been completed, and property owners have begun to receive the results, with many finding marked increases.

Doug Stanley

A Tuesday, Dec. 1, press release from the county noted reassessment is the process by which the assessed value of real estate property held by citizens, businesses and industries within the county boundaries is revised to reflect fair market value. Adjustments in value are necessary to reflect the current real estate market in order to more equitably distribute the tax burden among the citizens of Prince Edward County.

The last assessment was effective Jan. 1, 2015, the release stated, after highlighting that the Code of Virginia mandates that a general reassessment be conducted by the county at least every six years.

This latest reassessment will be effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The county press release provided averages to give residents an idea of the overall trends present in the latest assessment.

According to “Preliminary Market Study Indications” provided by Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group for the Prince Edward County 2021 Reassessment, as of Nov. 16, 2020, the overall average increase in market value of all property classes, excluding non-taxable (exempt), was 19%, the release stated. Prince Edward’s non-taxable (tax exempt) properties have increased 60%.

Residential property experienced the greatest increase, generally in the 10-20% range, depending on age, condition, location and other adjustment factors, the release continued. Commercial property in general experienced an overall average increase of 11%. Open and wooded land tracts increased about $300 per acre.

The release stated that the 19% approximate increase is in line with other counties in Virginia that are currently completing their reassessments: Pulaski — 15%, Caroline — 19%, Carroll — 13% and Washington — 15%.

Suzanne Crouse has two properties in the county, both of which increased in value to a degree that surprised her.

“This property reassessment is interesting to say the least,” she said.

She said she has eight acres off Old Peachtree Road, where a double- wide trailer is located. The property went up by 15%.

“This is a 30-year-old double-wide trailer,” she said. “From my understanding, they don’t appreciate, and the property appreciating 15%, that seems a bit steep. That seems a little unusual.”

Then she received the reassessment for her 30-acre property in Rice, which increased in value by 225%.

“Since we’ve been here, we’ve put in solar panels and we added a screened-in porch to the tune of about $40,000,” she said, noting that she also subdivided the property. “We gave some to my daughter, about 4 acres, and they built a house up on the hill too, so actually the property diminished in size.”

She said she has appealed the reassessments.

Susan Borum, of Meherrin, also expressed alarm at the increased assessment of her land, which ranged from 23% to 27%.

“I live on my family farm, so I own part of that farm,” she said. “Originally, my grandparents had given me 3 acres of land to put a house on. So it started off with 3 acres, and then I purchased a little over 14 acres from them around that, and then when they passed away, I inherited 51 acres, which also joins that. So I live in the middle of a big field, but it’s all together, it’s just three different plats of land.”

The 3-acre piece with the house went up 22.5%, the 51 acres went up 27.3% and the assessment for the 14 acres that contains only a shed in between the other two plats did not change at all.

“There is no rhyme or reason to the way they went up, so there is no way it was done fairly,” she said in a post about the reassessment process on Facebook.

Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley acknowledged in the press release that citizens’ first question after they receive their reassessment is understandably, “How much will my taxes increase?”

“It’s important to note that the reassessment and the setting of tax rates are two separate processes,” he stated. “The tax rates will not be set until next year during the 2021 budget process. State law requires that the county equalize the tax rate based on the average increase in assessments.”

Stanley provided an example in the release.

“For instance, if the final average increase in assessments was 10%, then the county would have to adjust the real estate tax rate from 51 cents per $100 of assessed value to 46 cents per $100 of assessed value,” he said. “If the Board of Supervisors decides to increase the tax rate above the equalized amount for 2021, they have to advertise that increase as a tax increase.”

The release concluded by stating that Wampler-Eanes is currently scheduling appeals for Dec. 8 through Dec. 18. Due to COVID-19, there will be no face-to-face hearings, all appeals will be conducted in writing or through email.

Taxpayers with questions or concerns about the reassessment process are urged to contact the Reassessment Office at (434) 569-5635 during the hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the release continued. Reassessment appeals can be submitted to Prince Edward County Reassessment Office at P.O. Box 382, Farmville VA, 23901 or to wamplerprinceedward2021@gmail.com.

The deadline for appeals is Dec. 18.