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by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond

BILL TO FREEZE PROPERTY VALUES FACES REPUBLICAN HEADWINDS

NC Rep. Ed Hanes Jr. (D-Forsyth) has filed legislation allowing county commissions to set aside the most recent property revaluation, and revert to the 2009 reappraisal.

The bill, which was filed last week, was drafted in response to a public outcry by homeowners in predominantly black neighborhoods on the east side of Winston-Salem who are alarmed that depreciation rates from 50 to 70 percent will effectively wipe out their most significant investments.

Hanes said he expects Rep. Evelyn Terry, a fellow Democrat, to cosponsor the bill and was still working on Reps. Debra Conrad, Donny Lambeth and Julia Howard — his Republican colleagues in the Forsyth delegation.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines has pledged to introduce a resolution in support of the bill at the next city council meeting on March 25.

Meanwhile, the bill faces steep hurdles, being that it was filed by a freshman Democrat in a Republican-controlled state legislature without the support of GOP lawmakers in the county delegation. And even if the bill passes, there is no guarantee that the Republican-controlled Forsyth County Commission will act on it. Commissioners Walter Marshall and Everette Witherspoon, the two Democrats who represent District A, urged property owners at a community meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church last week to lobby their Republican colleagues on the county board.

Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt, a member of the conservative Republican majority, said she does not support the Hanes bill.

“The expense, for one thing — the money that we’ve already spent on this reval,” she said, explaining her opposition. “Secondly, the last reval we did was because we had not had time for the recession to kick in. For the last four years those folks have been paying a higher tax rate. I think it would be very unfair to them.”

Commissioner Dave Plyler, a moderate Republican who sometimes votes with the board’s two Democrats, said he also opposes the bill. He noted that the board’s chairman, Richard Linville, first ran for office in the 1970s when the revaluation took place on an eight-year schedule. Linville pledged to put the county on a four-year cycle because he was unhappy that his property value had skyrocketed.

“It could get worse in eight years,” Plyler said. “Then what do you do?” He added, “To use the too-worn phrase, it is what it is.” Whisenhunt scoffed at the assertion widely made by east-side property owners and elected officials that predominantly black neighborhoods were systematically devalued by the appraisers in the tax office who carried out the revaluation.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” she said. “Who would benefit from that and why would anyone do that? The city would not benefit from that. There’s nothing about it that makes good sense. It’s another scare tactic that these elected officials and wanna-be election officials are putting in the minds of these folks.”

VOLUNTEERS TO PICK UP LITTER IN WINSTON-SALEM ON SATURDAY

Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful is coordinating the Great American Cleanup in Winston-Salem on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will pick up litter along local roadways, in parks and at schools.

For more information or to volunteer, visit KWSB.cityof WS.org or call CityLink 311

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