New appraisals necessary
As a lifelong resident of Orange County, I know that any discussion of the process of appraising land, homes, and other buildings for tax purposes often generates questions among residents.
Such discussions also frequently include taxpayers’ expressions of frustration with, and confusion about, the assessment process. It is our goal at Orange County to help our residents better understand the process and encourage you to ask any questions.
As you may know, at least every eight years North Carolina requires all its counties to conduct a property revaluation. The market value of properties change, and in order to make sure each homeowner has a clear idea of what their property is really worth and restore property values as they have changed over the years, a new appraisal is necessary from time to time.
How is an appraisal done? Our appraisal team divides the county into 1,000 neighborhoods or so. These neighborhoods are groupings of properties that have many of the same characteristics and react to the market in similar ways. All real estate is appraised at “fair market value,” which is the most probable price a property would bring in a competitive and open- market.
The Orange County tax office has been contacting property owners and getting its records updated for the 2017 revaluation. Feb. 29 is the deadline for submitting property listings. This is a 30-day extension, one granted due to questions about the form.
Staff members have been reaching out to property owners to get their help in getting the revaluation right and have posted videos and information on the tax office website bit.ly/23j77El (orangecountync.gov and choose tax office). You can also call the tax office at 919-245-2725, chose option 2 on the automated system and ask for someone to check the listing card for you.
Some important points to remember:
▪ No one will be penalized or charged back taxes for updating information that may have been missed before. This is not a process intended to generate additional revenue.
▪ Orange County will send new value notices to every owner between December 2016 and February 2017. The final tax bill resulting from the revaluation will be mailed in July or August 2017.
▪ Property owners will have multiple opportunities to appeal values they think are incorrect, starting with the local tax office and moving up to the county’s Board of Equalization and Review and the N.C. State Property Tax Commission.
Please feel free to contact us with any and all questions, and thank you for taking part in this important process.
Earl McKee, Chair
Board of Orange County Commissioners
During our recent snow/ice storm a snowplow truck operated by our town clipped a wire that AT&T had placed across our street to provide me with temporary access to cable, Internet and phone services.
AT&T laid the wire in mid-November, when my service was disrupted during its installation of fiber-optic cable in our neighborhood. The company said a contractor would bury the wire in four to six weeks. I waited patiently for this happen, repairing the wire a couple of times when automobiles damaged it. (Repairing the wire is not inherently dangerous, due to low voltage and amperage.)
Before the onset of storm, I suspected that the wire would cause problems, and I contacted AT&T, but they never sent anyone out to bury the wire. I am still waiting for it to be buried. A
fter repairing the wire a couple of times during the storm, I flagged down the snowplow truck and asked the driver not to clip the wire. The driver of the truck cooperated: he raised the plow a few inches and later the town placed some orange cones near the wire.
This incident has alerted me to the dangers associated with laying temporary wires across city streets and roads. The wires pose a hazard to pedestrians and vehicles. People may trip over the wires and vehicles may become entangled in them, which could lead to accidents. I would urge companies that place temporary wires across streets or roads to treat them as temporary. Wires should be buried as soon as possible, not left to aggravate residents and drivers.
David B. Resnik
We are grateful to worship God in a nation that explicitly protects our freedom to do so. We affirm the freedom of others to practice as they so choose, whether they profess different creeds, a different faith, or no faith at all. We know we are living in a troubled world—we are angered by injustice, we are grief-stricken by senseless violence, we are heartbroken by cruelty. But we renounce attempts to use our anger and grief and heartbreak to stoke fear. We reject messages that tell us to be afraid of outsiders. We condemn the persecution of and discrimination against believers and non-believers around the world, regardless of whether such actions target and victimize Christians, Muslims, atheists, or those of other faiths.
We remember that God’s perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).
We will, with God’s help, work to do as God commands, practicing forgiveness, standing up for those who are persecuted, and welcoming one another, as Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7).
Pastor Mindy Douglas
on behalf of Session of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church
Mass transit albatross
It is inevitable as a community grows and prospers that it sets it sights on the trappings of big cities. Light rail is one of those bright shiny objects. But the numbers add up, and not in a good way.
Mass transit is never, ever self sufficient no matter what the adoption/ridership level. Every community with mass transit of any kind subsidizes the expense with tax revenue of some sort. Big cities have tremendous density so the tax burden is spread thinly over many contributors. When you don’t have sufficient density, the burden becomes onerous on either property owners, businesses or both.
For mass transit to work, you have to have coverage. You need to pick people up where they live, drop them where they work, and have shopping available at either end. If people have to drive to the transit stop (and park) or take a cab from the stop to work, if they still need a car for daily errands, then you’ve not solved any problems beside, possibly, downtown parking. (Commuting congestion at our scale can be effectively mitigated with flex-time, staggered start and work from home.) One of the barriers to mass transit adoption in cities that are larger and more dense than the Chapel Hill-Durham corridor is that, for many, it takes more time to commute with mass transit than to drive direct/wait in traffic/forage for parking. To say nothing of the independence of not missing the last train/bus home or waiting an hour for the next one.
Rail, light or otherwise, is the most inflexible and expensive means of providing mass transit at our scale. If economics or demographics shift to make a previously served area no longer viable, you’ve got an albatross, public safety menace and eyesore to contend with.
There is always a need for subsidized mass transit, but let’s invest with eyes open and in view of our wallets not our egos. Let’s improve the flexible bus lines, let’s leverage ride-sharing, let’s prepare for self-driving cars, let's work with local industry on work schedules. With all the disruption in transportation at present, with the fluidity of zoning and development in the region, investing in permanently anchored heavy iron does not seem a prudent path forward.
The writer is founder of Workflow Analytics LLC, Chapel Hill.
Bedford for commissioner
The county commissioner race for District 1, (Chapel Hill/Carrboro) will determine your next county commissioner. If you are a Chapel Hill/Carrboro resident over 50 percent of the property taxes that you pay is controlled by the Orange County commissioners. The allocation of funding to our parks, senior and library services, economic development, water quality, social and 911 services, and schools is determined by our county commissioners.
I am supporting Jamezetta Bedford for commissioner because she has a depth of knowledge and proven leadership in both schools and local businesses.
Jamezetta served 12 years on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board including six years as chair/vice chair. With the recent cuts to education at the state level, our county must ensure that we remain competitive in order to retain the best teachers and environment for all of our children in both school districts.
As a practicing CPA in a local accounting firm she understands the successes and challenges for our local businesses and is well versed in the nuances of the budgeting allocation process.
Please join me in casting your vote for Jamezetta Bedford on March 15.