Council briefed on county real estate reassessments

Vinton Town Council members were briefed on the Roanoke County general real estate reassessments for 2018 at their meeting on January 2. Statistics indicate assessed values are up 2.22 percent with almost $1.9 million in new construction in Vinton in 2017.

Vinton Town Council members were briefed on the general real estate reassessments for 2018 by Roanoke County Real Estate Valuation Director William E. “Billy” Driver at their meeting on January 2.

According to Town Manager Barry Thompson, each year the Roanoke County Assessor’s Office establishes the property values for all property in the county, which includes property in the Town of Vinton. All property owners receive a letter detailing their assessment values for both buildings and land. The letter includes a table with the previous three years of assessments. The letter states the tax percentage increase or decrease from the previous year. According to Driver, these letters were mailed to property owners on December 29.

Driver reported that the change in assessed value for property in the Town of Vinton showed an increase of 2.22 percent over 2017. Residential property values increased from $367,966,000 to $376,837,700— an increase of $8,871,700 (2.41 percent). Commercial property in Vinton increased in assessed value from $99,047,600 to $100,557,100 (1.52 percent).

That is a combined increase in residential and commercial properties in Vinton of $10,381,200 (2.22 percent) over their assessed value in 2017.

The increase in assessment was attributed to $1,894,700 in new construction and $8,486,500 in market value change.

Driver categorized new construction in the town as $637,000 commercial and $1,257,700 residential (mainly attributable to the Roland E. Cook Lofts.) The new construction figures far surpassed the previous year, which saw only $52,600 in commercial construction and $858,100 in residential construction.

Council member Janet Scheid asked Driver about the impact of the Roland E. Cook Lofts residential property, which opened in the summer of 2017, on the market value of homes in the surrounding Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Driver said that information has not been quantified, but that there is a trend locally and nationally toward younger people who might not want to take on debt in an uncertain economy choosing apartment living over single home ownership.

The median sales price of a home in Roanoke County has risen (as of November 2017) to $209,750, the highest since 2008.

By November 2017, residential sales in the county were 1,033 with a drop in foreclosures to 95 of those homes— down from 113 foreclosures in 2016 and a high of 173 in 2010.

About 76 of those residential sales in 2017 were in Vinton or about 7-8 percent of the Roanoke County total sales.

Driver said that property owners who want to appeal their reassessments may do so with a real estate appraiser on January 16-19 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; on Saturday, January 20, between 8:30 a.m. and noon; on January 22 between noon and 7 p.m.; and on January 23 and 24 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30. Call 772-2035 (Ext. 0) for an appointment or with questions.

Property owners may also make a formal appeal to the Board of Equalization, which meets on April 26, August 2, and November 1.

Roanoke County has a Tax Freeze Program for the Elderly and Disabled administered through the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office. The criteria are that the property owner must be disabled or over the age of 65 with a combined income of less than $56,566, and net assets not exceeding $200,000 (excluding their home and one acre of land).

Disabled veterans may qualify for the Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption, also administered through the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office. To qualify, the property must be the principal place of residence for the veteran or surviving spouse, owned and occupied by the disabled veteran or un-remarried surviving spouse, with certification that the disability is 100 percent service related.

Information on both those programs is available on the Roanoke County website at or by calling the Commissioner of Revenue at 776-7116 or 772-2048.

The proposed reassessments are the basis for upcoming real estate tax bills. Thompson said that the tax rate for proposed assessments has not yet been adopted by Town Council. Notice will be published in The Vinton Messenger twice of the date and time when the public can comment on, and Town Council will consider, any real estate tax rate change.

Similarly, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has not adopted a tax rate based on the reassessments. Notice will be published in The Roanoke Times for the date and time for public comments.

In other business during the January 2 council meeting, Thompson informed members that the equipment lease approved at the last December council meeting for purchase of much needed Public Works vehicles closed on December 29, with the funds held in escrow until decisions are made on the items to be purchased. The bidding process is under way.

The Finance Committee report for November 2017 indicated revenues up with under-spending in both the General and Utility Funds. Cash flow is up over the same time period in 2016. The town received an increase in gainsharing funds from the county. Vice Mayor Matt Hare reported progress on a project to isolate grant funds into a separate budget account to simplify accounting, since the town has applied for and received so many grants in recent months.

Mayor Brad Grose thanked Public Works employees for their efforts in the bitter cold weather of the past week in keeping water lines in repair. The mayor also commented on the successes of the past year for the town, saying he feels the town has been “truly blessed” and that there is “much to be thankful for in the Town of Vinton.”  He attributed the long list of accomplishments in 2017 to the hard work of the town staff and to regional cooperation.

Hare and Councilman Keith Liles remarked on the “great momentum” in the town with many projects on the horizon for 2018 and beyond.