Timeframe too tight to begin process
The Harnett County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution delaying the start of the next county tax reappraisal.
In October, commissioners voted to begin the reappraisal on Jan. 1, 2021. Due to the lateness of the decision and a desire by staff to make sure the vendor chosen has enough time to conduct the reappraisal, the panel approved the delay during its regular meeting last night.
The decision to delay the project came during the commissioners’ work session last week.
“By the time we finally got our bids back we were right at the end of the year and we were really getting pushed on time,” said Harnett County Tax Administrator Keith Faulkner. “Even though I think some of the vendors probably could have gotten the project done, our biggest concern was we really felt like it was going to be pushed.”
Mr. Faulkner said because the county does want an accurate and detailed revaluation, it was best to delay the at minimum two-year in duration project for an additional year.
“Obviously, we want the best project we can possibly get,” he said. “We want the vendor to have sufficient time to complete everything in a timely manner and everything be presented to the board in a timely manner.”
Included in the latest reappraisal will be re-listing, re-measuring and photographing all properties — residential, commercial/industrial and tax exempt — within the county.
The added concerns the extensive nature of the revaluation led Mr. Faulkner to seek the extension.
“Because of the size and magnitude of the project, we had concerns about the time, because we were in a real crunch,’ he said. “And also because, even one of our vendors stated right up front he was going to be pressed for time to get a project of this magnitude done.”
He was also following the recommendation of other agencies such as the Association of County Commissioners, the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the Institute of Government, which suggested the county would be better served by delaying the start.
“After discussing it with them, we felt it was in the best interest of the county and taxpayers and everyone else to put it off a year,” he said. “It will allow sufficient time to make sure the project is thoroughly done. That way we can go behind the vendor and do random sampling to be sure everything is getting measured and they are listing everything correctly.”
Additionally, he and assistant county manager Coley Price noted the number of counties involved in reappraisals will drop from 22 in 2021 down to around nine in 2022. Thus allowing the possibility of more vendors available to do the project and thus possibly saving the county funds.
“We appreciate you considering putting this off a year,” Mr. Faulkner said. “It does take a lot of pressure off of us and also whoever you give the project to. I think they will be very appreciative too, it will allow them time to do a good project.”
Mr. Faulkner said the parcel count included in the reappraisal has been increased from his original estimate of around 66,500 to around 67,000.
“We’ll tweak that so when they put the bid in, it will be on that number,” he said. “It shouldn’t change the bids drastically. Hopefully with more time our bids will come back a little better. What I’m hoping is they’ve got sufficient time and will give us better bid prices, that’s what I’m hoping.”
When the board does reach a decision as to which vendor wins the contract, the payout of the contract will likely be done over a period of about three years, according to Mr. Faulkner.
He said he expects the vendor will issue monthly reports to the county on their progress with payment to follow.
“We’ll probably pay them monthly based on the percentage of completion of the project,” he said. “I estimated dividing approximately $2 million which is what we’re expecting it to run roughly, divided that out by three (years).”
Previously, Harnett County had conducted its own revaluation.
-Dunn Daily Record