Purpose, Process, Positives & Professional
The purpose of a general reassessment is not to raise taxes. If the county needs more revenue to operate, they are empowered to raise the tax rate any year with or without a general reassessment. A general reassessment is necessary to ensure that current property assessments reflect an accurate value of what property is truly worth, based on its fair market value. The Wise County Assessment Team did not select this method of appraisal. Countywide general reassessment cycles are mandated by Virginia state law. (Code of Virginia: Section 58.1-3201, Section 58.1-3252.) This is a normal function of government that exists in every locality in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, Article X, Section One of the Virginia Constitution states that "All property…shall be taxed. All taxes shall be levied and collected under general laws and shall be uniform upon the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax." Many Supreme Court decisions have supported the requirement for uniformity.
The method of appraisal utilized by the Wise County Assessment Team is also mandated by Virginia State Law. Section 58.1-3201 states that
All general reassessment…shall be made at 100% fair market value. This is referred to as ad valorem taxation. Ad valorem is simply defined as according to value. Fair market assessments are also called for in the Constitution of Virginia. Section Two of Article X states that
All assessments of real estate and tangible personal property shall be at their fair market value, to be ascertained as prescribed by law.
Our office does not control whether values go up or down. These are market trends which we are required by state law to reflect in our assessed values. It is our intention to ensure that the citizens of Wise County are assessed fairly and equally based on current market trends. Our assessments are based solely on value and do not take the tax rate or potential levy into consideration.
Assessed values are based on the activity of the sales market in our county. Only arm's length transactions are used to calculate the local assessment ratio. Our staff has carefully reviewed sales data from properties that have sold recently to establish the fair market value of each parcel of property in Wise County. According to Virginia Code Section 38.2-1401, fair market value is defined as
the price that property will bring when (i) offered for sale by one who desires, but who is not obligated, to sell it; (ii) bought by one who is under no necessity of having it; and (iii) sufficient time has elapsed to allow interested buyers the opportunity to become informed of the offer for sale.
In order for us to determine fair market value, we utilize the cost approach to value. The cost approach is a fact based method of appraisal where our values are driven by the cost to replace a structure today if it were new, plus any depreciation that has accrued over time. The value of land is determined by examination of local sales to determine the difference between the value of all improvements to the property and the actual price a parcel sells for.
It is important to remember that an appraisal is only an opinion of value and the actual sale price may vary from the assessment even in an open market sale. As long as the assessment is a fair and accurate representation of what the property should be worth, it is still a valid assessment. and The Department of Tax monitors our assessments for compliance with accepted appraisal practice, state law requirement, and accuracy. In addition the Supreme Court of Virginia upholds the fair market assessment established by our office as a valid opinion of value. and Substantial proof must be provided that a clear error was made in the assessment before any adjustments can be permitted by law.
Our Assessment Team is made up of local assessors who are very familiar with our county, all of whom have been involved in the reassessment process before. Many localities contract appraisers from a different part of the state to conduct their general reassessments. We have the advantage of a local team which deals with property right here in Wise County each and every day. Not only have we have ensured the most accurate assessment possible, we have saved the county taxpayers money by doing so. Our assessors are authorized to make any necessary adjustments to your property value, by utilizing a uniform method of appraisal.
In addition to physical inspections, our assessors also make use of cutting edge technology in their appraisal process, including Geographical Information Systems, Geographical Surveys, Flood Zone Maps, and Pictometry imaging.
Our chief assessor, who has almost fifteen years of experience as a property assessor in Wise County, is certified by the Virginia Department of Taxation as the appraiser to complete this general reassessment. In addition, all three of our tenured assessors have completed the educational requirements for licensed appraisers, and have been certified in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. These assessors have also earned a Master designation through the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center Certification program. Our Assessment Team has been well trained in a variety of appraisal techniques, including sales comparison, cost assessment, income analysis and mass appraisal.
Our assessors exceed the qualifications required to conduct this type of reassessment. They follow the strictest professional standards, and have maintained an excellent record of service to the citizens of Wise County. They are familiar with the trends and history of this area, and pride themselves on achieving accuracy and equality.
The Assessment Team hears all appeals, questions, or complaints regarding assessed values, and are able to make adjustments as needed. Property owners now have more access than ever to the information they need including GIS mapping and online assessments. Though located in far Southwest Virginia, our office is recognized throughout the Commonwealth as a leader in technological excellence, providing services that are years ahead of some other localities. One such service is Eagle Web, a free online tool that is a searchable database which provides our citizens with every detail of their individual assessment.
After a thorough Sales Study of Wise County and a cost analysis of the attributes and extra features associated with a property, our local assessors utilize their knowledge and experience to determine an accurate and equitable value. Our pledge to all citizens of Wise County is to pursue fairness and equality by following established and accepted practices for mass appraisal, in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.