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Reassessment concerns still on the burner

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors agreed July 1 that when Tri-County Appraisal Inc. irons out reassessment concerns with the county Commissioner of the Revenue and the Board of Equalization, the county will pay the firm its final payment.

At the meeting, William Coulson, president of Tri-County Appraisal, was obviously upset supervisors had not authorized the final payment, and was agitated that he had received a letter from county administrator Charles Culley only a few days earlier outlining the county’s concerns over the reassessment.

Coulson said he felt he was not given enough time to prepare answers to the concerns. He indicated he had attempted to contact Culley “twenty times” to discuss concerns over the reassessment, but Culley had not returned his calls.

Culley said the reason he sent the letter to Coulson was because Coulson’s attorney had requested a letter when the county opted not to make the final payment.

Culley also said he did not return Coulson’s calls because he didn’t get results when he talked to him earlier.

The letter from Culley states that the Middlesex Board of Equalization feels there are inconsistencies in the reassessment of similar properties and also between commercial versus residential properties. 

Another complaint was that some landowners received a new assessment in February and received a second reassessment in early April—with no explanation as to why they had received a second one.

Coulson explained that when a neighbor reports a discrepancy on his property it often impacts an entire neighborhood, and the assessment changes for everyone.

“That may be fine, but the people who have to pay the taxes want to know why their land values changed in just a couple months,” said Culley.
Supervisors also complained that above-ground pools were left out of the reassessment and given no value. 

Coulson said swimming pools are not considered an improvement to a piece of property, and many times he does not include pools in real estate values.

Culley’s letter also stated that land parcels with more than one dwelling are coded wrong, and the additional dwellings are not always showing on the assessment
card. “It just seems that if every property were examined, the number of structures would be on the card,” said Culley. 

Assistant county administrator Marcia Jones said over half of the property owners who attended the Board of Equalization meetings complained they were told they would be called back by the assessor with some type of explanation. However, Jones said, the property owners were never contacted by Tri-County Appraisal.

“This upset people as much as anything,” said Jones. “They didn’t know whether or not their problem was taken care of, or whether they needed to come before the Board of Equalization.”

Supervisor Fred Crittenden said the main problem between Tri-County and the county has been a lack of communication and he encouraged Coulson to work on customer relationships.

Supervisors agreed the matter could be cleared up simply by having Tri-County officials work with the Commissioner of the Revenue.  “When she (Commissioner Bonnie Davenport) is satisfied, then we will be satisfied,” said board chairman Kenneth W. Williams.

Coulson said he had no problem working with Davenport or the Board of Equalization.

posted 07.18.2008

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