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Originally published: 2014-01-21 21:59:46
Last modified: 2014-01-22 16:08:01

County property values down .33 percent

by Allison Haver

Watauga County's 2014 property revaluation resulted in an overall decline of 0.33 percent in property values, amounting to a difference of about $85,000 in tax revenue if the tax rate remains the same at 31.3 cents per $100 valuation, Watauga County Tax Administrator Larry Warren told the Watauga County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

"In the beginning of the process we believed there was a 0 to 10 percent decline in values overall," Warren said. "But we are essentially flat."

Beech Mountain values declined by almost 10 percent, and Blowing Rock declined by slightly more than 2 percent. Seven Devils increased by 6 percent, and the Cove Creek area increased by 8 percent, the tax office indicated.

"I believe it speaks well for Watauga County," Commissioner Billy Kennedy said. "The numbers show we have more economic strength, and what we have to offer is appealing to people. I hope they continue to choose us as their second home."

Warren said a notice of the new values would be sent out to property owners within a couple of days. The valuation notices will include instructions on how to appeal if property owners disagree with the assessments. Warren is working with Watauga County Planning and Inspections Director Joe Furman to acquire a space to hear informal appeals. 

Residents can contact the Watauga County Tax Office at (828) 265-8021 for more information.

The board also discussed proposed amendments to the town of Boone's Unified Development Ordinance regarding the county commissioners' role in appointing extraterritorial jurisdiction representatives to Boone's Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment. The amendments were developed after a Nov. 20 meeting between the Boone Town Council and Watauga County Board of Commissioners on the matter.

Under the draft proposal, citizens would have a month to apply for vacant ETJ positions on the two town boards. The council would then adopt a resolution requesting that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners appoint a qualified person to the position and directing the town clerk to forward the names of applicants and those the council recommends for appointment to the commissioners.

If the commissioners fail to make an appointment within 90 days after receiving the resolution, the appointment power would return to the council.

In a memo to the commissioners, County Manager Deron Geouque said the proposed amendments by the town did not address what happens if the town fails to adopt the resolution to the county. 
"Without the resolution, the county would be unable to appoint a member as currently written," Geouque wrote.

County attorney Stacy C. Eggers IV recommended additional changes to Boone's draft amendments stating that if the town council does not pass a resolution seeking the county's appointment, the county would wait 60 days after the ETJ vacancy is announced before making the appointment.

Commissioner John Welch said he believed the additional changes brought everything back to the general consensus and reflected what the board had discussed with the council at the Nov. 20 joint meeting.

"Hopefully this is making progress so the town and county can function effectively together." Kennedy said. 

The board unanimously voted to send the amendments to Young to be considered for adoption by the Boone Town Council.

In other business, the commissioners:

-- unanimously approved the vehicle emergency equipment installation request presented by Sheriff's Office Capt. Kelly Redmon. Redmon presented bids to install emergency equipment and decals in newly purchased patrol vehicles. Of the three bids received, Dana Safety Supply was the lowest bidder in the amount of $26,487.35. 

-- unanimously approved a letter of support for the urgent repair program of the High Country Council of Governments. Should the application be approved, a multi-county housing repair program would be established and administered by the High Country Council of Governments. 

-- unanimously approved a request by Lenny Lazzara, commander of Chapter 639 Military Order of the Purple Heart, for the board to declare the county as a Purple Heart County. The goal is to have all 100 counties in North Carolina approve the proclamation to raise awareness of the sacrifices by the people who have received the Purple Heart Award. 

CORRECTION: This story has been modified from its original version to reflect a correction to the percentage of the county property value decline and to provide additional information.