Love City Residential Property Revaluations Begin

Property revaluation inspectors, above, evaluate an Upper Carolina residence.

The territory-wide property revaluation project—which has been going on for more than a year—has now reached Love City residential property owners.

V.I. Tax Assessor’s Office representatives began private residential inspections on the East End on March 20, and were scheduled to move into the Cruz Bay area on March 27.

“We are not done with the East End or Coral Bay areas,” said property revaluation project supervisor Wynn Canton. “It’s pretty slow going out here because we need appointments for most of the homes. We will leave a team out here and bring a team to town to begin there.”

Faster Inspections in Cruz Bay
Inspections in the Cruz Bay area should move along much faster than inspections in the Coral Bay and East End locations, Canton added.

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“It’s going to be a lot faster in town,” she said. “We can go from door to door, unlike out here, where the houses are more spread out.”

Revaluations for commercial properties were completed across the territory last year. Taxes on some commercial property rose as much as 200 percent after their revaluations, which sent ripples of concern throughout the community.

Residential property revaluations are already complete on Water Island.

“We are moving along on St. Croix, and we are almost finished on St. Thomas,” said Canton. “But Water Island is finished.” St. John residential property revaluations could take months, Canton added.

“They want to start configuring everything in June,” she said. “But I doubt that it will happen then. It’s taking so long—I would give it two to three months, in my honest opinion.”

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St. John resident and homeowner Richard Sullivan meets with property revaluators at his home in Upper Carolina.

Home Owners Needed On-Site
Home owners must be on site for the inspections, where employees will ask a number of questions about the house and measure the perimeter square footage.

“There is no need for us to go inside,” said Canton. “We aren’t doing a full appraisal. We really just want the square footage, how many stories there are, what the area is like in terms of congestion, what kind of view there is and some other information.”

Property revaluators were at Richard Sullivan’s Upper Carolina home on a recent morning.

“We read the notice about property revaluations in the Tradewinds, so we called and made an appointment,” Sulli-van said. “They came on time and were very nice.”

Sullivan said he is interested in the process and what the end result will mean in terms of taxes — and he is not alone. The property tax issue has been a hot one on Love City, where residents fear someone who lives in a one-room home could face exorbitant taxes because their neighbor built a million-dollar home.

Senator at Large Craig Barshinger, Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards and other politicians have pledged their support to help St. John landowners.

The property tax issue arose in 2000, when a number of St. Thomas hotels filed a law suit against the V.I. government claiming they were being taxed unfairly.

U.S, District Court Judge Thomas Moore, citing a 1936 federal law pertaining to the V.I., ruled the V.I. Tax Assessor’s office had to revaluate all properties in the territory.

The Virginia-based Bearing Point company was contracted to do the revaluation and is doing a good job, added Canton.

“I am impressed with Bearing Point,” she said. “They do this all over the world. They know what they are doing.”

1936 Tax Law
Christensen has been appealing to the U.S. Congress to repeal the 1936 tax law, so that the V.I. Legislature could then set their own tax legislation.

In a partial victory, the bill calling for the repeal of the 1936 law passed through committee considerations, and should be voted on by the full U.S. Congress in the future.

Meanwhile, property owners have been cooperating with inspectors.

“Some people, who don’t read the newspapers, have some resistance at first,” said Canton. “But once they understand what we are doing, folks have been cooperative.”

To schedule an appointment with the property revaluators, call the V.I. Tax Assessor’s Office at 775-8505.