COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Use Value Tax - Revalidation

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

To provide information regarding a proposed revalidation requirement for property in the Use Value Tax Program, to request approval of the revalidation form, and to set a public hearing to consider a proposed ordinance to implement revalidation

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Herrick, Wiggans, and Woodzell

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

September 3, 2008

 

ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

On July 9, 2008, the Board held a work session on a proposed revalidation requirement for property in the Use Value Tax Program (“Program”).  The Board requested staff provide a proposed revalidation form.

 

This Executive Summary provides the specifics of the proposed revalidation requirement discussed at the July meeting, the proposed revalidation form (Attachment A), and an ordinance to implement revalidation (Attachment B).

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Objective 4.2:  By June 30, 2010, increase the protection of the County’s rural areas by implementing the key strategies of the Rural Area Plan.

 

DISCUSSION:

Virginia Code § 58.1-3234 authorizes the governing body of any county, city, or town to require property owners in the Program to revalidate any previously approved application. Revalidation requires property owners in the Program to confirm that the property continues to meet Program requirements.

 

To date, the County has not required revalidation.  Prior to January 2007, the County conducted property reassessments on a biennial cycle.  That two-year reassessment schedule allowed the Assessor’s staff to conduct site visits of each property in the County every two years to reassess the property and, if the property was in the Program, physically inspect the property to gauge compliance with Program guidelines.

 

In 2007, the County changed from biennial to annual reassessments. This change resulted in the Assessor’s staff visiting each property every three to four years instead of every two years.  Revalidation is a tool to assure that parcels enrolled in the Program continue to qualify without a field visit by an assessor.

 

Advantages/Disadvantages:

 

There are several advantages and disadvantages of a revalidation requirement.  Advantages of requiring revalidation include:

 

·         greater public confidence that only qualifying parcels are receiving the special tax benefits of the Program.

·         regular notification to property owners of their enrollment in the Program and the requirements of the Program.

·         requirement that Program participants certify their farming/forestry/horticulture/open space use (i.e., Schedule F, income receipts, farm numbers, etc.).


Disadvantages of requiring revalidation include:

 

·         additional administrative costs (i.e., supply/postage expense, staff assistance, and storage space needs).

·         failure to meet deadline(s) and/or provide proper documentation would result in parcel(s) being removed from the Program, the possible assessment of roll back taxes and taxpayer complaints.

 

Comparative Information:

 

The following chart shows the revalidation requirements of other localities:

 

Locality

Use Value Parcels

Revalidation

Augusta County

6,000

Every Year, With Fee

Chesterfield County

800

Every Year, No Fee

Fluvanna County

1,500

Every Year, No Fee

Greene County

600

No

Henrico County

410

Every Year, No Fee

James City County

249

Every Year, No Fee

Louisa County

3,400

Every Two Years, No fee

Loudoun County

5,000

Every Year, With Fee

Nelson County

2,000

Every Six Years, With Fee

Orange County

1,000

Every Year, With Fee

Rockingham County

5,400

Every Six Years, With Fee

 

Albemarle County currently has 4,981 tax parcels in the Use Value Tax Program.  

 

Recommended Revalidation Process:

Staff recommends that property owners in the Program be required to revalidate every two years, beginning in 2009 for tax year 2010.  This two-year approach would ease the burden of the property owner having to file every year, while still providing the County adequate documentation that the property conforms to Program requirements.

 

Staff recommends an extensive education process prior to implementation of a revalidation requirement.  This education process would begin by providing information about revalidation to all affected owners with the second half 2008 tax bills (to be mailed in late October 2008) and the 2009 reassessment notices (to be mailed in January 2009).  Using the tax bills and reassessment notices for this step of the education process would save the cost of additional mailings to Program participants. 

 

The second step of the process would be the distribution of the actual revalidation forms.  These forms would be mailed in late April 2009, separately from the tax bills, to all owners in the Use Value Tax Program. The deadline for filing the forms with the Assessor’s Office would be September 1, 2009. Staff recommends no fee for applicants who file by the deadline. Applications would be accepted after the deadline until December 5, 2009, but would require payment of a late fee of $125.  As with the initial Use Value applications, a separate revalidation would be required for each parcel.

 

Proposed Form:

Staff collected revalidation forms in use by 12 other localities and incorporated the best elements of each form to develop the attached proposed form (Attachment A).  The proposed form requires property owners to provide certain information and forms to verify the continued qualifying use of the property.  Staff then consulted with several representatives of the Farm Bureau and the farming community to ensure that the form, while providing the needed information, would not be unduly burdensome. 

 

Administration of the Revalidation Process:

Upon receipt of the revalidation forms, the Assessor’s staff would review the paperwork for accuracy and compliance, and would make every attempt to contact landowners concerning incomplete applications prior to the final filing deadline.  Property that qualified would remain in the Program.  Owners of property that did not qualify would be notified and the non-qualifying properties would be removed from the Program.

 

Implementing a revalidation requirement would necessitate an amendment to Chapter 15, Taxation, of the County Code pertaining to the Use Value Tax Program.  In order for the forms to be mailed in spring 2009, effective for the 2010 tax year, the Code amendment must be adopted by October, 2008. This would provide time for the County to

conduct a public information campaign this fall and again in January (in conjunction with the 2009 reassessment) to notify the public of this new requirement.

 

The proposed effective date of the ordinance is April 1, 2009, which is after completion of the 2009 Use Value Tax Program cycle, but in time to implement the requirement for the 2010 tax year.

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Although the revalidation forms would be sent as a separate mailing, the fiscal impact of revalidation is expected to be minimal (less than $2,000).  Expenses would include postage and printing costs.  It is anticipated that existing staff will be sufficient to review the documentation upon submission.  Minimal expenses are anticipated for supplies and storage. Minimal late fee revenues are projected. 

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff requests that the Board provide direction to staff regarding the proposed revalidation process and form.  In addition, staff recommends that the Board set the attached ordinance (Attachment B) to implement the revalidation requirement for public hearing on October 1, 2008.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

A – Proposed Revalidation Form

B – Draft Ordinance

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