‘Not the time’: New Hanover County residents raise concern over property assessments during pandemic

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Homes (photo: WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Every four years, New Hanover County reassesses property values in order to make sure the tax burden is equitably distributed.

According to County Tax Administrator Allison Snell, overall residential property value increased by about 26% from 2017 when the last assessment took place. She explains it’s all about supply and demand, which is partially due to the pandemic as well. More people working from home, realizing they can work from anywhere, and the Cape Fear is a hot commodity.

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“When you have a shortage of supply, it drives up demand, and when the demand is driven property values go up,” Snell said.

Some people have expressed concern for the increase during the pandemic, noting that many are struggling to make ends meet without having their taxes increased this year.

County Spokeswoman Jessica Loeper explained that just because they’re seeing an increase in property value, it doesn’t mean they’ll see an increase in their taxes. The appraisals people are receiving are not a bill and they should not assume their taxes will go up by the same percentage their appraisal did.

Even if there may be a tax increase in the future, county commissioners won’t receive the proposed budget for 2021-22 until May, then holding a public hearing before voting on it in June.

Additionally, Snell says the appraisal process began in the spring of 2018 before the pandemic began.

Among concerns of the amount, some are frustrated the process itself is happening during a pandemic.

Steve Vosnock, a New Hanover County resident, says the county should prioritize public health by putting off the process for another year since state law allows up to eight years for areas to reassess.

“​I mean I’ve been trying to play by the rules and not go anywhere I don’t have to,” Vosnock said. “To me, going to this Board of Equalization and Review this year is wrong. It’s bad timing all the way around.”

The Board of Equalization and Review is the entity that hears appeals for these appraisals. County officials say a virtual option will be available, but Vosnock still has concerns.

“You do not want to Zoom a board of E and R meeting,” Vosnock said. “You’re talking about your property and money that is going to come out of your pocket if you want to keep living here. It’s something you need to do in-person.”

Vosnock is also troubled that many residents may not be well-versed in technology, causing them to avoid the appeal process entirely.

For those that do have problems, Snell says the county will work with those who have concerns coming onto the office, as well as issues connecting virtually.

Once your appraisal is received, it says you must file an appeal within 30 days. Snell says this is the best practice to do so as soon as possible, but the Board of Equalization and Review will be accepting appeals until May. After the board adjourns May 11, it is too late to file an appeal. For appeal forms, click here.