The wounds from this battle will be raw for a while, but I have no doubt the BOS can rebuild a working relationship that puts the residents of the county first. There will be challenges enough in finalizing a budget that features a cut in the real estate tax rate from 58¢ to 48¢ per hundred dollars of value (basically revenue neutral), layoffs, and cuts in services.
While the memories of the reassessment are still fresh, the board and residents should resolve to work for changes in the way the state required reassessments are conducted. Some may be achieved locally while others may need authorization or help from Richmond. A starter list:
- Reassessments should be done every two years to improve timeliness and accuracy while reducing sticker shock.
- Reassessments should be done in-house by a independent office shielded as much as possible from political pressures. The Commonwealth should pass legislation and funding to assist with technology, training, and legal safeguards.
- Legislation should be passed to place the burden on the assessor to justify large increases (say over 8 or 10% annualized) rather than being on the landowner to show why the increase is unjustified.
Sometimes our biggest disagreements can result in the best positive steps forward. Hopefully, that will be the case this time.