Residents: Why is property depressed?
BY TEVIN STINSON
What is the appraisal process used for homes in the area? What can residents do about gerrymandering and the location of voting precincts? How do the decisions in Raleigh impact the families and communities in Winston-Salem?
Those were just a few of the questions raised during a town hall meeting hosted by NC 71st District Rep. Evelyn Terry earlier this week. During the event held at the Enterprise Center residents let it be known early that they had concerns about the drop in value of their property.
While an appraisal completed to re-evaluate the property values in the county shows an increase of about 6 percent and 70 percent of homes increased in value for the entire county, properties in the east and the south, which is in the 71st District, saw a decline in property tax values.
One man said his home depreciated by $19,000. Longtime city resident Hazel Mack said there needs to be a new process to get the true value of homes in the area. She mentioned that a lot of people in the area have made improvements to their homes that aren’t reflected on the property value.
“We need another method to determine value other than sales,” said Mack. “In our community, we’re still being affected by the mortgage crisis.”
When asked how the property value is assessed, County Tax Accessor John Burgiss said appraisals on all properties in Forsyth County are completed every four years and are based on the sale of similar properties in the immediate area.
“We are constantly watching the sale of real estate all throughout the county. In a geographical area, we monitor the sale of properties and analyze those sales and try to find out what people are paying for properties and what they’re getting for their money,” said Burgiss. “At the end of the day, it is based on the transactions that have occurred in your neighborhood. So, if a house like yours sells, we’re likely going to use that sale to help us understand the property value.”
Burgiss encouraged residents to appeal the results of the appraisals by filing a appeal form through the county. During the appeal process, tax accessors include the inside of homes in the appraisal. The initial appraisal was based only on outside appearance along with other factors, including size, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
“If you feel like the value is too high or too low, please appeal,” continued Burgess. “My job is not to over tax you or under tax you. I want to accurately tax you.”
Another hot topic during the forum was the removal of the voting precinct at Winston-Salem State University. Several students, including representatives from Common Cause, an initiative that encourages millennials to get out and vote, came to the meeting to find out what they could do to get a precinct back on campus.
Senior Riahna Carroway said the decision to remove the voting site from the Anderson Center on the campus of WSSU had a major impact on the voting experience for not only students but others in the community as well. She said several students have already laid out an action plan but wanted to know what they should do next.
“We started a petition but we need to know from you how we should get our site reinstated on campus to benefit the students and the surrounding community,” Carroway said.
Rep. Terry said although those who voted to remove the voting site found several reasons why it should be done, one of the original reasons was the small number of voters who used the precinct.
“Systemically, if the people in power determine they don’t want it, they will find a reason and it will shut down. So, what we must do to reverse that is provide the reasons why it should not be that way and be persistent about it.”
“Do not stop. Do not stop engaging the people and get out there and get the people who you know and use that site. You have to deliberately use your mind to develop a strategy to prove that this is not going to work for us.”
Following the group session, those in attendance were put into smaller groups, where they discussed other issues and developed strategies to bring about change. According to Terry, the data from the groups will be analyzed and put into a full action plan later this summer. A second forum is scheduled for early July.
“Nothing is done solo. For this to work, it takes people from all walks of life,” said Terry. “We didn’t come up with any concrete solutions here today, but this is a start. If we can create a relationship and work together, we can accomplish something.”