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James City County real estate assessments show decline

imageJames City County’s biennial real estate tax assessments declined to $10.9 billion or approximately 3.67 percent lower than the 2010 assessments of $11.3 billion. On average, individual residential homes dropped by 5.64 percent. Houses valued at less than $200,000 and more than $700,000 saw the least reduction as a percentage. Houses valued between $300,000 and $500,000 saw higher than average reductions. No County properties saw an increase in value. Once new residential construction and new developments were included, the County’s residential property values overall were reduced by approximately 4.57 percent.

The Real Estate Assessment Division assessed all real property based on the fair market value as of Jan. 1, 2012. Approximately 31,000 properties were evaluated including 27,600 residential properties. About 22,000 of those residential properties will receive assessment reductions when change-in-assessment notices are mailed on Feb. 29. The new values will be effective for the next two fiscal tax years 2013 (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013) and 2014 (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014).

County appraisers, who are licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, analyze current real estate sale prices and the assessment-to-sales ratios to determine whether a property assessment should be increased, reduced or remain the same. Properties are analyzed by assessment areas, which are based on common land uses, types and ages of buildings, value range and other locational characteristics. A nationally recognized computer valuation system is used to appraise the properties.

Property owners may request a review of their assessment between Feb. 29-March 30 by calling 757-253-6650, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. An appraiser will review the assessment to insure property information is correct, and confirm that it represents fair market value and is equitable with other similar properties. Most changes, including reductions, are made during this administrative review period. If the issue is not resolved by phone, the property owner may request an appraiser visit the property. Property owners will be notified by mail if the assessment is revised. Owners who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the review may file an appeal in writing with the Board of Equalization no later than April 30, 2012.  More information can be found online at jamescitycountyva.gov/assessments.

The Board of Supervisors adopts the tax rate when it approves the County’s annual budget which is expected to be May 8 for the FY 13/14 budget and fiscal tax year 2013. The County Administrator’s Proposed Budget will be released April 13 and a public hearing on both the budget and the proposed tax rate will be held during the April 24 Board of Supervisors regular meeting.

How much a County property owner will pay in taxes is determined by multiplying the tax rate and the assessed property value. The current tax rate is 77 cents per $100 of value. If the Board of Supervisors keeps the tax rate at its current level, a home assessed at $250,000 would pay $1,925 in taxes, half due Dec. 5, 2012 and half due June 5, 2013. With an average reduction in value and tax payments of 5.64 percent, this would represent an average savings of $115.06 annually on that $250,000 home, assuming the tax rate remains the same. The savings could be either higher or lower depending on the actual assessment of the property. Additional savings could be realized if a property owner qualifies for a tax relief program for elderly and disabled citizens.

For information on the County’s real estate tax relief program for elderly and disabled citizens, please contact the Commissioner of the Revenue, 757-253-6695. The program provides tax relief to homeowners who are 65 or older and those who are permanently and totally disabled if they meet certain income and financial worth qualifications.

The Commissioner of the Revenue also administers the land use assessment program which provides for tax deferrals for qualifying forested and agricultural land. Reduced real estate taxation is also available to properties with conservation and preservation easements.

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