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Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Average real estate values dropping 6%

Real estate values in King George are slated to drop an average of 6 percent when the new assessments go into effect this January.
That’s the latest announcement from Blue Ridge Mass Appraisals, which has been under contract with the county to conduct a reassessment of all property in the county for the last year.

The news does not mean all property owners will see a drop in their assessments. In fact, some have gone up.

In a release to the county last week, Blue Ridge’s Project Manager Mike Didawick said, “We are aware of downtrends in property, and we kept track of sales occurring in King George through September of this year. It has been four years since the last general reassessment and overall property values are generally 6 percent less than they were for the previous assessment.”

Didawick added, “This does not mean all properties went down in value, just the overall county average. Many residential properties did go down, especially the higher priced properties as they are the more difficult to sell at this time. Tracts of vacant land and some commercial properties did increase in value.”

The average 6 percent drop in King George’s real estate values is a much smaller drop than many localities are facing.
Didawick told The Journal that Fredericksburg’s realty values had dropped more than 20 percent this past spring from their previous assessment two years before.

He also said that Fauquier County, which is on the same four-year assessment cycle as King George, had likewise recently come in with more than a 20 percent drop in values.

ASSESSMENT RECORDS online

In addition to the assessment notices mailed out last Friday, Oct. 30, assessment records can be accessed online at Blue Ridge’s Web site, www.vamanet.com.

Simply go to the homepage and click on “King George County.” From there, enter the name of the property owner and click on “Process Search.” At the property listing, you will see the new assessment total for buildings and land.  To view additional information, click on the name. To get more details, clicking on “Building 1” will give a complete description of the number of rooms, square footage, types of utilities, etc.
To compare assessments with other properties in the neighborhood, instead of entering a name, the Web site provides the option of entering an address or Tax Map and Lot number.

ASSESSMENT HEARINGS

Property owners who wish to appeal their assessments may call Blue Ridge now for a hearing appointment, (540) 775-3354.
The hearings will take place this week and next on the ground floor of the Revercomb Administration Building, located behind the Courthouse.
Those who appeal their assessments should be prepared to explain why they think the property may be assessed improperly.
Property owners who participate in a hearing will receive written responses from Blue Ridge.
Hearings will be scheduled until Nov. 16.
After that time, property owners will have the option of an appearing that will be held for the Board of Equalization, which will schedule hearings after the first of the year.

BOARD OF EQUALIZATION

Property owners who wish to question their valuations are not required to protest to Blue Ridge Mass Appraisals.
Instead, they can protest the valuation of new assessments to a county Board of Equalization. Or they can do both.
Virginia law requires that following each reassessment, localities establish a Board of Equalization to hear appeals by landowners.
The King George Board of Supervisors is expected to nominate members to a Board of Equalization later this month, whose appointments will be finalized by the Circuit Court.
Those appointed must attend and participate in training provided by the state Department of Taxation to prepare for their duties.
Meetings of the Board of Equalization have not yet been scheduled, but are expected to begin by the end of January. Dates and details will be advertised.

TAX BILLS

There will be no change in the amount billed for the second half-year payment for 2009 property taxes, which will be mailed out later this month by the county with payment due on Dec. 5.
The Board of Supervisors will make adjustments on the real estate tax rate in spring 2010 during budget deliberations. At that point, supervisors will be provided an “equalized” tax rate by county finance staff.
With assessments coming in lower than the existing values, the county’s equalized tax rate is expected to be higher than the current 45-cents per $100 valuation.
That’s because the equalized tax rate figure will reflect a calculation of what the tax rate would be if the same amount of real estate tax revenue were to be realized by the county as in the current year, but based on the new real estate assessments.
Any proposed tax rate above the official equalized rate would be considered a county tax increase and would be advertised as such. A public hearing on a new tax rate will be advertised in the spring and is expected to be held in April, date to be determined.
Whatever tax rate is adopted by the Board of Supervisors in spring 2010 will be reflected in tax bills due in June 2010 when the first half-year payment is due.

Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

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