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Wythe supervisors address higher property values

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Wythe County’s property reassessments have been mailed out and the value of Wythe County properties has soared with some homeowners reporting values increasing by more than 50 percent and tens of thousands of dollars.

In response, supervisors have advertised lower real estate and personal property tax rates. The proposed real estate rate is 52 cents per $100 valuation, down from 54 cents. The proposed personal property tax rate is $2.22 per $100 valuation, down 10 cents.

Although the board hopes to lower the taxes, individual property taxes could still increase or decrease, depending on property values.

During the April 26 Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisors expressed frustration that the representatives from the company that performed the reassessment, Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group, will not face taxpayers face-to-face to answer questions. Instead, those with questions or wishing to appeal their reassessment have been given an email and postal address.

“I don’t like this,” said Board Chairman Brian Vaught. “The people have a right to be heard. We hired them to do a job, which included hearing these people.”

“I don’t disagree,” said Stephen Bear, county administrator.

“We put out bids, solicited bids; we hired them,” Vaught said. “Maybe we weren’t thorough enough, because every reassessment I’ve ever been a part of – not on the board, but as a property owner in Wythe County – I’ve had the right to go sit face-to-face with the reassessor and plead my case … this is wrong.”

“I’m on the same train, sir,” Supervisor Stacy Terry said.

Bear said the experience has been a “lesson learned” about regarding reassessment contracts in the future.

“The contract needs to clearly state it will be in-person appointments, not phone appointments or Zoom appointments,” he said, adding that the company indicated it has taken concerns via email and phone for the past several years.

“But they don’t do it in person, and I do not like it,” Bear said. “But I do not know of any recourse we have on it.” Bear added that he and county attorney Scot Farthing will follow up to see if in-person hearings can be held.

“We don’t control inflation. We can’t control the housing market,” Brian Vaught said. “We can’t control – and I don’t mean this negatively – we don’t control people from northern states with much higher tax rates who have moved here and pay exorbitant amounts of money for property. That’s what drives the market.”

Commissioner of the Revenue Kathy Vaught said residents have until May 20 to file an appeal via email or postal mail.

Supervisors didn’t think that was a long enough time frame.

Brian Vaught said the county gave Wampler-Eanes a 90-day extension to finish the reassessment and the company is giving residents less time than that to appeal. He said maybe it was common sense that supervisors thought reassessors would meet with residents or maybe it was the county’s fault for not going through the contract with a finer tooth comb.

“Tell them not to list us as a reference,” he added.

Property owners upset with an assessment should file an appeal with Wampler-Eanes. The company will review all appeals and notify the taxpayer by mail of its decision within four to six weeks. If still unsatisfied, taxpayers can lodge a complaint with the board of equalization, whose members are appointed by a local judge. Board members were sworn in Tuesday.

According to the Wampler-Eanes website, property reassessments are based on neighborhood property sales, land values, yearly appreciation trends and other data. The most frequent cause of change in value results from a change in the real estate market. A property’s value can also change for other reasons, like additions, garages, remodeling, damage or destruction, the website said.

The new reassessment values will be the calendar year 2022 assessed values and will be the basis for real estate taxes due in December.

Commissioner of the Revenue Vaught reported to supervisors that taxable parcels of land in the county amount to approximately $1 billion with improvements of approximately $2 billion, for a total of about $3.1 billion. That is an increase from last year of $783 million.

The county has made several tools available to property owners so they can research the value of their home and homes in their neighborhood.  There is a reassessment book in the offices of the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Wythe County Clerk of Circuit Court’s office. There is also PDF copy on the county’s website at www.wytheco.org.

Also on the website, you can search for land values in alphabetical order and by parcel ID number on a map.

To file an appeal with Wampler-Eanes by May 20, email wythecounty2022@gmail.com or mail appeal to the Wythe Reassessment Office, 225 S. 4th St., Room 101, Wytheville, VA  24382. You can also visit the reassessment office at that address in the old courthouse. For more information, you can call 276-223-4142.

Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the real estate tax on May 31 at 6 p.m. They will hold a public hearing on property taxes on June 14 at 6 p.m. The next Board of Supervisors meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 10.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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