County schedules special meetings

Oct. 27, 2013 @ 05:29 AM

Following a revamping of the Rutherford County Revenue Department's offices inside the Rutherford County Courthouse, the county will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Monday for a workshop regarding the coefficient of dispersion.

The meeting is the first of two special meetings scheduled for next week.

The second meeting will be a County Commission meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to hold a public hearing on commercial solar farm development and transportation improvement projects at the Rutherford County Airport.

The county's coefficient of dispersion has come under fire after a North Carolina County Commission Association report that indicated the county had one of the highest rates of dispersion in the state.

According to a memo from county staff, the coefficient of dispersion is based on the average absolute deviation and provides a measure of appraisal uniformity "that is independent of the level of appraisal and permits direct comparisons between property groups. It is calculated by dividing the average absolute deviation by the median assessment/sale price ratio and converting that into a percentage.

Essentially, it gives a percentage of how close assessments are to actual sale prices. The lower the coefficient of dispersion, the closer aligned county appraisals are with sale prices.

According to 2013 sales assessment ratios, Rutherford County had a coefficient of dispersion of 42.99 percent. It was the seventh highest rate in the state with two counties not reporting.

Clay County had the highest dispersion rate of 55.76 percent.

In western North Carolina, only Cleveland County had a higher dispersion rate of 45.55 percent.

While the percentage was high in reference to the rest of the state, Department of Revenue officials said it was "nearly impossible" to have all the assessments and sales match up.

"The idea of inequity comes in where a substantial number of taxpayers are paying more or less than their share, because their properties are being assessed for more or less than the actual market value," said Stephen Pelfrey, property valuation specialist with the North Carolina Department of Revenue, in a memo. "I don't believe the report intended to say that this was the case in Rutherford County, but merely that this situation was one to look out for, and to avoid if possible."

The second meeting draws attention to a recent decision by commissioners to reduce a moratorium on creating commercial solar farms in the county.

Initially, the Rutherford County Planning Commission asked for a nine month moratorium but commissioners reduced that to 90 days during their regular August meeting.

Currently, the county has no regulations regarding building solar farms but there has been interest to construct. Residents expressed their feelings during the meeting in August.

"Everyone in this county seems to claim to want to bring jobs here … anything to make this county relevant," Rutherfordton resident Lori Murphy said in August. "At the same time, no one wants to put in the effort to make that happen.

"It is going to have to be in someone's backyard and people are going to have to make sacrifices."

Members of the Planning Commission said the time was necessary to protect against any potential adverse affects of a solar farm.

"People pay taxes on the land and they have the right to do what they want to do with it," Commissioner Bo Richard said in August.