Like Albemarle County before it, Charlottesville has a real estate assessment problem.
Past reports of rate-rigging and internal collusion have undermined the public’s confidence in the City assessor’s office and have called to question the veracity of their annual output. This year one Charlottesville City Councilor and one city business, in particular, are the poster boys of a corrupt assessment system and incompetent government administrators.
Renegade City Councilor, Bob Fenwick, who resides on E. Jefferson Street in downtown Charlottesville, saw an eye-popping 71% escalation in his home’s value—from $482,100 in 2016 to $825,200 in 2017. This compared to an average residential increase of 4.2% citywide. At an assumed tax rate of 95 cents per $100 of assessed value, Fenwick’s tax bill will surge a whopping $3,259.
Other Charlottesville City Councilors experienced much better outcomes.
In contrast, City Manager Maurice Jones’s home on Holly Road in the Greenbrier neighborhood rose just $100 over the previous assessment, or an infinitesimal .02%.
The City’s commercial property base, in general, has been hit hardest, facing average tax bill increases of an astounding 30%. And some fared far worse. To wit: Bob Archer’s long-time E. Market Street business, Bob’s Wheel Alignment, faces an arduous 65% spike: from $1.4M to $2.3M in a single year. That translates to $8,879 more annually.
In recent interviews, apologist Mayor Signer has taken to blaming institutional fecklessness for the huge year-to-year disparities in Charlottesville assessments. But flimsy excuses are of little consolation to hardworking people like Bob Fenwick and Bob Archer, whose very livelihoods are threatened by Charlottesville’s rigged assessment racket—one that serves the powerful and robs the powerless.