Property values down, overall, in county

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Lake area falls the most; some areas see increase

By John Barnhart

Property values in Bedford County are going down.

    The Bedford County Board of Supervisors learned, at a work session last week, the results of the real estate reassessment that was completed this year.
    Don Thomas, of Wingate & Associates, told the supervisors that the company had assessed 47,000 parcels and the average value had decreased by 2.71 percent from last year’s taxable base.
    This, however, varied a great deal according to the type of property and where it was located.
    Thomas said that the firm looked at 5,000 agricultural parcels and there was virtually no change in their value. The 850 commercial parcels looked at increased by an average of 6 percent.
    The firm looked at 39,819 residential parcels and their value dropped by an average of 4 percent. The Lake area saw much greater decreases. The 9,400 Lake area parcels looked at dropped in value by an average of 14 percent. The assessors looked at 3,500 waterfront parcels and they declined in value by 17 percent. The Forest, Boonsboro  and New London area, on the other hand, saw property values go up by an average of 4 percent. Parcels within roughly 1.5 miles of Bedford’s city limits saw a similar increase in value.
    Thomas cautioned that these percentages are averages. A number of individual parcels varied from these figures.
    If you believe that your property was incorrectly assessed, you have until Nov. 22 to speak with a Wingate representative. People who are unhappy about the results of this process can take it to the board of equalization, which will be appointed by the Bedford County Circuit Court, and will listen to complaints after the first of the year. People also have the option of appealing a board of equalization decision to circuit court.
    During the regular meeting that followed, the supervisors heard from Scott Baker, who heads up the local Virginia Cooperative Extension office, on a planned reorganization of the Cooperative Extension.
    Baker said that the reorganization is coming because the budget has been cut by $5.5 million.
    According to Baker, the new organizational proposal was developed to ensure a stable extension program that can deal with a smaller state budget. It’s a hybrid model that uses regional offices and local offices that have reduced staffs. A locality can opt to keep its local office open, and opt to pay for personnel beyond what the state will fund.
    Baker said that the Bedford area’s office currently has three extension agents, an administrative assistant and a nutrition program assistant. The nutrition program assistant is federally funded.
    Under the reorganization plan, Bedford would have one extension agent.
    Baker said that this reorganization plan has a 12- to 18-month timeline for implementation.