COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Revalidation Requirement for Properties in the Use Value Tax Program

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

To provide information to the Board on the Revalidation Form and Process

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Wiggans, and Willingham

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

April 17, 2009

 

ACTION:      X        INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:             INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

On July 9, 2008, the Board of Supervisors held a work session on a proposed revalidation requirement for property in the Use Value Tax Program.  On September 3, 2008, the Board authorized a public hearing to consider adopting an ordinance to establish a revalidation program.  On October 1, 2008, the Board, following the public hearing, adopted the revalidation program.  At the March 11, 2009 Board meeting, the Board requested an update on the status of the revalidation process.  The details of the program are included in Attachment A.  The recommended Revalidation For Taxation On The Basis Of Land Use Assessment Form (“Revalidation Form”) is 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:

Since adoption of the revalidation program, the County’s new Assessor, with extensive experience in the implementation and administration of a Use Value Tax Revalidation Program in Loudoun County, has reviewed the program. He has prepared additional information to assist the Board in fully understanding the revalidation form and proposed program implementation.  This executive summary and the attachments in particular, are designed to clarify the program and provide this additional information.  Staff has met with Supervisor Thomas and Supervisor Mallek to receive input on improvements to the form and the planned process.  Staff welcomes any additional input the Board may have at Friday’s meeting regarding implementation of the program prior to sending this information out over the next few weeks.

 

Revalidation Form:

 

The attached revalidation form is designed to serve as a single document for use by current participants to document and verify their land use.  It includes program dates and requirements to revalidate each type of land use.  While the requirements for revalidating land use for real estate devoted to agriculture and horticulture are fairly straight forward, several points of clarification are included below regarding real estate devoted to forest use and open space.

 

1.  Under technical standards of the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council (SLEAC), real estate devoted to Forest Use that is physically accessible must be growing a commercial forest crop for harvesting when mature. The allowance of not needing a harvest is only if the forest crop is not accessible.  To help determine a forest parcel’s qualification, the property owner should provide the Assessor’s Office with a copy of a professional forest management plan or Forest Land Use Commitment.  Each document should detail when the property was last harvested or when the next harvest is planned and what action is planned to be taken between harvests.

 

2. To qualify for Open Space, the property must be a minimum of twenty acres and be:

            i) within an agricultural, a forestal or an agricultural and forestal district;

ii) subject to a recorded perpetual easement held by a public body; or

      iii) subject to a recorded commitment entered into by the landowners with the Board of Supervisors (Attachment C).  In addition, the property must meet SLEAC standards to protect soil and water quality.

 

As is included in the remainder of this executive summary, staff will assist property owners in understanding and meeting the requirements of the program for each land use classification.

 

 

Revalidation Process:

The revalidation forms will be mailed with a cover letter (Attachment D) to owners of property in the Use Value Tax Program at the beginning of May, 2009.  Submission of completed forms is required by September 1.  Forms received by this date will not be charged a fee for revalidation.  Forms will continue to be accepted until December 5 with the payment of a late fee of $125.  However, if a completed form is not submitted by December 5, the property will be removed from the program and the owner required to reapply.  Properties that reapply for land use because they did not meet the December 5 deadline will be required to provide five full years of data on land use rather than the one year of data required through revalidation.

 

Due to potential questions/difficulties participants may have concerning the completion of the revalidation form, staff will make an extensive effort to educate participants in the Use Value Tax Program and the information needed for revalidation.  As part of that effort, the following steps will be taken to ensure that current participants have every opportunity to understand and meet the requirements for revalidation:

 

  1. an insert of frequently asked questions (Attachment E) will be mailed with the revalidation form;
  2. an outreach program will be conducted using press releases, public notices and open houses where staff will be available to assist property owners;
  3. the Assessor’s Office will offer extended hours to assist property owners in the revalidation process; and
  4. second notices will be sent by certified mail to remind property owners who have not submitted their forms by September 1 of the requirement to revalidate to continue in the Use Value Tax Program.

 

The goal of the revalidation process will be to educate property owners of compliance standards and to ensure properties are correctly classified for land use assessment.  Only in extreme cases of non-compliance with standards of land use assessment or refusal of the property owner to provide necessary information will property be removed from land use assessment in this first revalidation cycle.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

This executive summary is intended to address the Board’s questions.  Staff asks that the Board provide guidance regarding any additional steps the Board may want to be taken to implement the revalidation process.  No action by the Board is required.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Executive Summary from September 3, 2008

B – Revalidation Form

C – Open Space Use Agreement

D – Land Use Revalidation Cover Letter

E – Land Use Revalidation Frequently Asked Questions

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