City reassessments focus of meeting

Posted: October 29, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The city’s biennial real estate reassessment is almost complete, but residents and business owners still have time to provide information that might have a bearing on their property’s valuation.

The city will holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at Rouss City Hall regarding the reassessment process. Property owners wishing to know more about the process are encouraged to attend.

“We recommended it to the city,” said Fred Pearson of Pearson’s Appraisal Services, the company contracted to perform the reassessment. “I think it’s good anytime you’re doing a property reassessment to give property owners an opportunity to give you additional information.

“The more information we get from property owners, the better the assessment we can do. We would like to know what their concerns are.”

Thursday’s meeting won’t be about meeting owners to discuss their individual properties, though. Pearson said the information is to educate people about the process, including what information affects a valuation.

“We’ll just go over the process, give people ideas of what’s going to happen as far as property values go,” he said.

The 2010 reassessment was performed by Commissioner of the Revenue Ann Burkholder’s office.

City Finance Director Mary Blowe said Pearson recommended such a public meeting during the request-for-proposals process to hire a company to perform the 2012 reassessment. She and Celeste Broadstreet, the city’s real estate administrator, agreed that it was a good idea.

“If there was a pressing question or concern someone had,” Blowe said, “it gives the citizen the opportunity to answer that question.”

The reassessment will be finalized in early January, and Pearson said taxpayers will be sent their new assessments about mid-month.

For city residences, he said, it appears that the average assessed value on the books from the 2010 reassessment is about 1 percent over the average sale price based on current data. That can vary by neighborhood, he noted, so some people might see their property’s assessed value rise while others see it fall.

Commercial real estate still are under review, too, but Pearson said the assessed values of downtown properties “might be a little bit high.”

Pearson said letters have been mailed to commercial property owners to let them know they can submit information about the income their properties generate if they want that to be considered in the valuation. Properties with a high number of vacancies could be in line to have their assessment lowered.

The bulk of the appraisal work should be completed by the end of November. Pearson said that will give the commissioner of the revenue’s office time to review the data “and make sure we haven’t missed anything.” December property sales could lead to adjustments before the assessments are finalized.

Property owners can have an appraiser visit their home to make sure all the information about it is correct. To schedule an appointment, contact Pearson at 804-564-9393 or pearsonfw@msn.com.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com