Residents raise questions at Meherrin town hall meeting

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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When will the elementary school construction be finished? What are the rules the reassessment teams have to follow? Residents had several questions when Prince Edward County Supervisor Jerry Townsend held a town hall meeting in Meherrin last week.

The meeting took place at Meherrin Fire and Rescue on Thursday, May 23, with a number of county officials on hand to provide answers.

One of the questions that kept popping up involved reassessment workers. Prince Edward County hired a team from Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group earlier this year and assigned them to update property information and take new photos of each building, be it a home, shed or barn. New Commissioner of the Revenue Crystal Hensley was asked what time the assessors would pay a visit and who had to be there.

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“With the reassessment, you do not have to be home,” Hensley said. “They only get the measurements on the outside of your home. They have no need to go inside.”

Hensley added the first thing one of these workers should do upon arrival is knock on the door, just to let people inside know who they are and why they parked a car in your driveway.

“They do take pictures,” Hensley explained. “They do the measurements of your home, because we have to have that information for reassessment. But if you prefer to be there when the assessors come, you can contact or call me. I can get in touch with the assessors, give them your contact information.”

And how will you know if the assessment team has been by? What they’ve done in years past was leave a little note, just letting the homeowner know they’ve been by.

So, why is this happening? You can thank Virginia law. The Code of Virginia requires that a general reassessment of all real property (that includes residential, commercial, industrial, even vacant land, etc.) be conducted by every county to update the assessed value to reflect current fair market value. A “reassessment” is the process by which the assessed value of real estate property is periodically updated to keep the value consistent with what the property is worth on the open market, also known as Fair Market Value, and to assess properties fairly in comparison to each other.

Why does the property value need to be adjusted? Adjustments in value are necessary in order to more equitably distribute the tax burden among the citizens and businesses of Prince Edward County. This reassessment will continue through the fall of this year, with the new property values taking effect as of Jan. 1, 2025.

Meherrin focuses on elementary school

Meherrin residents also wanted to know when the new elementary school will be finished. Now, there isn’t any construction taking place right now. That part won’t start until later on this year. But with few delays, the answer remains the same as to the finishing date. The total construction is expected to take about 30 months, finishing up around March of 2027.

As for when it will get started? That’s been pushed back slightly. Previously, it had been set for mid-September. But now, due to a lack of some materials, construction will begin in October.

The timeline currently looks like temporary classrooms will be ready to go by July 19. That gives just over two weeks before school starts on Aug. 5. Everything is expected to be hooked up by that July date, so the only thing left will be to move instructional materials over.

The plan calls for 15 temporary classrooms this fall, with four additional module units used as student toilets and one final module as a teacher workspace.

Once the temporary classrooms are in place, a request for construction bids will be advertised in July, with the goal of getting them back in August.

“This will be something the whole county will be proud of,” said Richard Goode, Director of Support Services for Prince Edward County Public Schools.

He also informed the group that the schools are starting to get an idea of what their testing looks like.

“We believe the elementary school is going to do great,” Goode said about the test results. As for middle and high school numbers? He said they’re still waiting on those.

Editor’s note: John Karratti contributed to this report.