By Bridgett Lynn
Friday, August 6, 2010
Albemarle County has collected $955,000 worth of roll-back taxes from a
adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2008.
The report was shared with the board Wednesday.
“It was important that we put in place a revalidation program so that the public has confidence that the parcels receiving the land-use tax benefits were using their land for agricultural purposes,” said Supervisor
Dennis S. Rooker
in an interview.
Since 1975, the county has used a land-use program to give reduced assessments to landowners who use their property for agriculture, horticulture, open space or forestry. The program was started to help protect rural land from development.
With the revalidation program, property owners who receive a tax break have to submit proof every two years that they continue to qualify.
“I was disappointed that the county had never done a revalidation,” said Glenmore resident Paul Accad in an interview. “Now they are in the process of completing the first one and look how much money has been, and will continue to be, collected due to the revalidation.”
“My thoughts on the program are that it needs to be run as cheaply as possible given the program’s goals,” Accad said. “I’d like to see those goals posted on the Web site since I’m not sure what they are.”
In 2009, owners of each of the 4,927 properties in the land-use program were mailed revalidation applications and approximately 98 percent of the forms were returned by the December deadline. The applications that were not submitted or that no longer qualified for the tax break were removed from the land-use program and had to pay the roll-back taxes.
The result was a loss of 177 parcels of land and the collection of $955,000 worth of roll-back taxes. The county also received an increase in taxable land value of $46,254,500 and new real estate revenues of $343,208.
Rodney S. Thomas
said he supports the land-use program, he said that he does not necessarily agree with the policy on roll-back taxes paid by people losing eligibility.
“What if I want to get out of this land-use program?” asked Thomas in an interview. “Does that mean I don’t have to pay for the roll-back taxes even if I gave a five-year notice? No, I would have to pay for it. [That’s] one thing I didn’t like about the program.”
The General Assembly has capped the roll-back tax period at five years. Property owners leaving the program have to pay the difference between what they paid under land use and the taxes they would have paid at fair market value. Albemarle County has been unsuccessful in
past attempts to get the General Assembly to extend the roll-back penalty to 10 years
According to Bob Willingham, the county’s assessor, the Real Estate Division is now two months into a field review process to ensure that the parcels in the program meet qualifying standards. The goal is to review the remaining 4,800 parcels over the next two years.
Because the review process just started recently, information on the number of parcels verified has not been collected yet, according to Willingham. Preliminary findings indicate about 33 percent of the applications need additional follow up to verify a qualifying use.
Each property owner will be given an opportunity to provide documentation of a qualifying use before the property is removed from the land-use program and the owner is billed for roll-back taxes.