Property reassessments coming soon: 2019 real-estate tax bills will show updated values

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — A county contractor will soon begin field work for the next countywide real-estate reassessment.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors last week approved a $535,000 contract with Wingate and Associates to conduct the reassessment.

Field work will start next month. The new assessments will become effective Jan. 1, 2019, according to County Administrator Doug Stanley.

Reassessments are done every four years to make sure the assessed values keep up with the changing real-estate market and to ensure that property owners are assessed a fair amount in real-estate taxes.

The reassessment will cover about 25,600 parcels, 325 mobile homes, and include 2,000 photographs. Costs include $25.45 per parcel, $15 per mobile home, and $3 per photograph.

Costs will be covered using the Special Projects fund, and money from the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 budgets.

The Code of Virginia allows counties with populations of less than 50,000 to perform real estate reassessments every five or six years.

The Board of Supervisors previously decided to conduct reassessments every four years to guarantee fairness to taxpayers, Stanley said. Reassessments provide equalization of property values, which ensures equitable taxes.

Properties' fair market value fluctuates, and citizens could pay too much or little in property taxes if real estate records do not adjust to the market, Stanley said. The longer time between reassessments, there is higher probability of taxpayer inequities.

A real estate sales report provided to the Virginia Department of Taxation by the commissioner of revenueís office is another reason county officials recommended continuing the four-year cycle.

That report determines an assessment-market sales ratio, Stanley said. If the ratio drops below 80 percent, it could affect the county's composite index and school funding.

Based on trends through the 2013 reassessment, residential properties would see a decline in value more than commercial and industrial properties.

The Code of Virginia requires that real estate reassessments be made by a board of assessors consisting of at least three members.

The county previously found it difficult locating people willing to commit time as an assessor, Stanley said. Wingate offered a 75-cent per parcel discount to have its employees serve as assessors.

This arrangement should save up to a full day per week, Stanley said. To create its own board of accessors would cost the county about $19,000 extra, plus an $80 daily salary for accessors.

The contract stipulates the county provide Wingate with office space, and cover expenses for a necessary board of equalization.

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