Property owners vow to fight - object to extreme rise in property values, taxes

Staff Writer
The McDonald News


(Photo by Karen Thomisee)

North Carolina - An overflow crowd came to the McDowell County Courthouse Tuesday, expressing anger over new property values from the county's revaluation.

And the residents who attended said they will voice their objections to the McDowell County Board of Commissioners.

"If we stick together as a community and as a whole, we can get something done," said Ronnie Burgin, who organized the gathering.

The meeting, held in the main courtroom, drew at least 400 people with approximately 100 people waiting outside in the hallway.

Burgin said the new values that were sent out to local residents and property owners are unfair and unjust. He said some people have told him their values have increased 80 percent while others have told him their values have gone up 800 percent.

"We need to demand that something should be done in a gentleman-like and lady-like fashion," he said.

Former Commissioner Larry Seagle said the new values are not valid and McDowell is ranked at 83rd among all 100 counties in North Carolina for per capita income. He said the U.S. Census figures from 1999 give McDowell a per capita income of only $16,109. The N.C. Department of Commerce figures from 2000 give McDowell a per capita income of $20,374.

Based on these figures and the new values, long-time residents and property owners will no longer be able to keep their land.

"The natives in this county will eventually be displaced at this price and that is a sad statement," Seagle said.

In addition, 15 percent of the county's residents are older than age 65 and many of them are on fixed incomes, he said.

Jeff Dreibus, one of the speakers at the meeting, said local property owners should appeal the new assessed values and visit the County Assessor's Office in person.

"It doesn't hurt anybody to appeal," he said. "When you go in there, don't be confrontational. Just show them what you got."

Property owners have until April 15 to ask for an appeal with the County Assessor's Office.

Some people in the crowd asked about the county hiring a firm from Charlotte to conduct the revaluation at a cost of $300,000. Commissioner Butch Hogan said he did not vote to hire this Charlotte firm but was voted down by four other commissioners.

The next regular meeting of the County Commission will be held Monday, March 10.


[Note from Big Dave Hensley, in attendance at this meeting via Julie Kay Smithson: We actually
counted over 600 there ... Over 400 IN the courtroom and the rest in the
stairwells and hallways. Plaque barely visible behind the people at the door
states that the fire code limit is 240 people! Many persons came and couldn't
get within hearing distance, even with the PA system and just they turned
around in the lobby (downstairs) and went home. Those persons went uncounted.
This newspaper ALWAYS downplays the actual events here, especially property
rights and opposition to County Commissioner activities ...

My Mother's red clay 7/10 acre garden lot went from a value of $1,700 to
$14,440 ... An increase of 849% ... My lot went up by 352%.. is 1.5 acres
(that I live on) with 3/4 acre under water when it rains.

It might also be noted that the County Manager (by way of his wife) has a
development company incorporated in a neighboring county and has plans to
build (around Lake James) a city as large (in planned population) as both
municipalities that are presently in the county. All of these are lakefront
properties, or a 1-lot setback, and need infrastructure (ergo the tax
increase on the relatively poor county residents).

The county Manager also moonlights as the County's Economic Development
Director (A second PAID county position). There are another 300-350 homes
being built on the south side of the town of Marion, all high value homes.

There are NO JOBS here to support ANY increase in population!

One local textile firm has been revalued at more than 5 Million increase and
is in danger of being annexed by the city of Marion, which would add another
5 Million. More than 500 employees stand to lose their jobs if this happens.
There is very little employment left here now. The "displacement" remark in
the article is not a joke ... What a nightmare!


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