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The BOCC Hires A Consultant

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*Written by Jim Bensman, former Cornelius Town Commissioner and very active participant in the battle for correcting the failed revaluation.

Last week the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners finally voted to engage Debbie King as a consultant to work in the Assessor’s department working for Dena Diorio.  While I have not seen the terms of her engagement, I am told that she will have the latitude to make necessary improvements.  Karen Bentley chaired the bi-partisan committee that developed those terms.  She and the other Commissioners who worked this out together should be commended for making this happen.

Debbie’s skills are desperately needed as the Assessor department is virtually unmanaged since Bobbie Shields became Interim County Manager.  Her success will depend on her getting the requisite support from the BOCC, Bobbie Shields and Ms. Diorio, otherwise nothing will change.

Once H200/S159 passes, which is due “soon”, the County will have to engage outside resources to essentially redo the 2011 Revaluation.  The cost of which was estimated to be between $7M and $9M if my memory serves me correctly.

Staff has estimated around $25M in over collected taxes will need to be returned to the taxpayer. While there is no way to really know until the work is done, I believe the number to be much higher.  Since many properties that were undervalued will increase, the net effect is unknown.  This number does not include the impact to the municipalities.  I have read where Cornelius is bracing for around $2M in refunds alone.

Since the legislation requires interest to be paid on over payments at a rate of 5%, if the $25M is accurate, millions of dollars in interest has already accumulated.  Moving forward is not only important to the County, City and  Towns, it is even more important to the taxpayers who have been forced to overpay their taxes.

I sincerely hope that his step in the right direction will work out for the best.  I must say I was shocked to hear Bobbie Shields report to the BOCC that the failure of the 2011 Revaluation was mainly due to poor customer service.  While that was a factor, there are reams of evidence to the contrary including the Pearson Report that clearly lays out the multiple failings that occurred.  I was surprised the BOCC let him get away with saying that.

Anyway, Bobbie seems on board with engaging Debbie Shields and that is a good thing.

Finally, I want to thank Tom Derham for his tireless work on this issue. His contributions are truly amazing.

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