By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: October 27, 2018 | 1:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – One of the more time-intensive parts of Dinwiddie County’s ongoing reassessment has been completed as the county gets one step closer to finishing its first county-wide reassessment in roughly a half-decade.
In an interview, Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill confirmed Wampler-Eanes, the company tasked with executing the county’s reassessment, has completed the required fieldwork as part of the complete reassessment of the county’s properties, which covers over 20,000 parcels, including open land, homes, commercial, and industrial properties.
That fieldwork had been ongoing since the early summer, which required hundreds of miles of driving and walking on foot to record information about the property’s exteriors. As part of their contract with Dinwiddie County, Wampler-Eanes’ staff was required to physically observe each of the parcels in the county, which included taking a photo of the site – so as long as the property owner granted permission to have the image taken – so property cards can be updated appropriately and to compare records, such as in cases where an addition or deletion to a home may have been done, such as a pool or outbuilding, but it isn’t reflected in building records.
“We want to ensure that they go to the property and that it’s documented and they are taking the time to do the reassessment accurately,” Dinwiddie Commissioner of Revenue Lori Stevens said as crews began their on-the-ground efforts.
With the fieldwork completed, County Administrator Massengill noted the next step in the process is for reassessment notices to go out to property owners later this month, which, he reiterated, are not bills. Instead, they are simply notices of what a property’s newly assessed value is based on the latest evaluation by Wampler-Eanes, which could be lower or higher.
“Just because your assessed value may be higher, it doesn’t mean you are going to be paying more,” Massengill stressed. “When the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors sets the tax rate later next year, they will also have the opportunity to set the equalized tax rate.”
Once those notices go out, the county administrator explained property owners who disagree with the value will be able to go before the board of appeals, which will allow those owners to meet directly with the assessors’ office beginning November 5 through 19. After that, beginning in the first quarter of 2019, those property owners who dispute their reassessment will then be able to have their case heard through the circuit court-appointed county board of equalization.
“That board works to listen to people on an individual basis,” he explained. “Ultimately, if you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can appeal to the circuit court.”
As the notices head out to those owners, Massengill reminds the community that those notices are not bills, stressing that point by detailing the actual notices are adorned with the words, “This is not a tax bill.”
“People automatically assume this is their new tax bill,” he explained, adding that this reassessment also plays a key role in ensuring taxes are equally distributed among residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
“There is an industrial base and a commercial retail base so this is all about equity,” Massengill continued. “Those individuals paying the fair market value on their property also helps our residential property owners.”
This reassessment is the first since 2013 and falls in line with the Commonwealth’s regulation requiring localities to execute a reassessment every six years at the latest. In past years, Dinwiddie County operated on a four-year reassessment cycle dating back to 2009, a time where the local and national economy was strong right before the Great Recession, the results of which Dinwiddie was not exempt from as unemployment rose to a high of 8.8 percent and home starts and new construction slowed as credit was not as easily attainable.
Since then, Dinwiddie and much of the region continues to recover from the decline in the economy during that time and, according to county staff, this reassessment comes at the right time as growth continues to be fostered in the county on the residential, commercial, and industrial front.
Stevens’ office and the county have posted a complete question-and-answer section on Dinwiddie’s governmental website break down the reassessment process and provide resources to property owners to quickly review their property card for accuracy and contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s office with questions.