Fenwick Island Property Revaluation Effort Underway

FENWICK ISLAND – A months-long revaluation project is now underway in Fenwick Island.

On Monday, officials with Pearson’s Appraisal Services began conducting a revaluation of all properties within the town’s corporate limits.

The project begins less than a month after the Fenwick Island Town Council selected the appraisal firm to reassess the value of all town properties.

In an interview this week, Town Manager Terry Tieman said the revaluation is expected to end ahead of the summer season.

“We’re expecting it to be done before June,” she said.

Tieman explained an assessor with Pearson’s Appraisal Services will conduct field work throughout the town in the coming weeks.

“They will be going to each individual property, looking at it and taking pictures …,” she said. “They will be identifiable, and our building official will most likely be going around with them.”

Town officials first introduced the need for a revaluation project in October. They noted property taxes accounted for 34 percent, or $728,000, of town revenue in fiscal year 2019, and residential and commercial property assessments totaled more than $36 million.

Officials noted, however, the town’s last revaluation project took place in 1976 and that 580 residential properties, or 75 percent of the people in town, paid less than $1,000 in taxes each year.

“I think that is really telling,” Mayor Gene Langan said last fall. “Twenty-five percent of the town is paying a majority of the taxes.”

To that end, the town issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for appraisal services, which officials said would fairly distribute the tax burden in town. And last month, the council voted unanimously to select Pearson’s Appraisal Services, which they argued was a reputable firm that could begin work almost immediately.

Tieman this week shared her enthusiasm for the project.

“We are happy this is finally getting started,” she said.

According to the town’s website, licensed assessors will review information from the property inspection and analyze and compare all recent property sales in each neighborhood. Those comparable sales, as well as variables such as age, size, condition and amenities, are used to formulate the valuations in that specific neighborhood.

“Revaluation of commercial properties works much the same way as revaluation of residential properties,” a statement on the town’s website reads. “Trained certified assessors gather information, such as physical characteristics, replacement cost, land values and circumstances regarding any recent property purchases. Income and expense information may be requested because it is related to what investors are willing to pay for property.”

Town officials said property values are expected to change following the revaluation. Property owners will receive a new valuation through an assessment letter, which will include instructions on how to proceed.

“If you believe the new valuation is an appropriate assessment of your property’s value, you don’t need to take any action,” the statement reads. “If you are not satisfied with the result of your new assessment and wish to discuss your new assessment, please refer to the letter for dates and times that you can discuss this with the assessor.”

While property values are expected to change, town officials said county assessments will not be affected.

“Sussex County taxes and the Town of Fenwick taxes are calculated independently,” the statement reads. “This revaluation will not affect your Sussex County taxes.”

For more information, visit fenwickisland.delaware.gov/projects/, or call Fenwick Island Town Hall at 302-539-3011.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.