Local News
11:33 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Want To Hear Property Tax Appeals For Little Pay? Time To Apply Is Now

Mecklenburg County residents protest the property tax revaluation at an August 2012.

Mecklenburg County is trying to fill 15 seats on the Board of Equalization and Review. That's the group responsible for hearing property tax appeals. It's a job that comes with a lot of criticism – particularly this last year as the board was inundated with appeals to the flawed 2011 revaluation. So why would anyone want the job? 

First off, the hours can be a bear.

"Probably one to two days a week, anywhere from four hours to 12 and 14 hours a day," says current Board of Equalization and Review chairman Jim Barnett. "We've literally, I've gone in at 8 a.m. and gotten out at midnight."

Barnett has been a member of the Board of Equalization and Review off and on for about 15 years. He says in a non-revaluation year, the time commitment is a bit less. The botched 2011 revaluation produced more than 10,000 property tax appeals for the Board of Equalization and Review to handle. That's highly unusual.

Now the county has decided to re-do the revaluation and appoint a new Board of Equalization and Review. Current members like Barnett have taken a lot of heat along the way.

"I can take the guff that I'm getting," says Barnett. But it helps to have a thick skin, he admits.  He once got booed at a county commission meeting.

The job does pay – between $100 to $125 per three-hour meeting and $15 an hour after that. 

Though Barnett says, "If anybody does it for the pay, they're out of their minds, because it's so little. The reason I did it is because I made a lot of money in this town – in this county rather - in real estate and I wanted to give my knowledge to the board."

That's the crux of it really.

You need to be a realtor like Barnett or at least have experience in real estate and appraisals to serve on the Board of Equalization and Review.  And if that is your profession, sitting on the board provides great insight into the market, says Tom Derham who served for about eight years in the 1990s.

"It increases your depth of knowledge in industries," says Derham, who now chairs an advisory committee tasked with helping Mecklenburg County do revaluations. "It really broadened my horizons – and you get to serve your citizens – which aren't we supposed to be serving our citizens from time to time instead of just running off to the golf course?"

A major focus for Derham, at the moment, is rebuilding the Board of Equalization and Review – no easy task as prospects run off to the golf course.

"We are chasing them down the hall," says Derham. 

So far, 21 people have applied for the 15 slots. Current chairman Barnett says he'll apply, too.

The deadline is March 22nd. 

More information here.