Fenwick Island Completes First Revaluation In 43 Years

FENWICK ISLAND – A revaluation project has concluded in Fenwick Island.

In a meeting of the Fenwick Island Town Council last Friday, Town Manager Terry Tieman announced Pearson’s Appraisal Service had completed a preliminary revaluation of all properties within the town’s corporate limits.

“We have completed the preliminary revaluation,” she said. “Today they sent out letters to everybody, which you will receive in the mail in the next few days, talking about your old value and your new value.”

In January, the town selected the appraisal firm to reassess all town properties after it was discovered Fenwick’s last revaluation project took place in 1976. And over the course of two months, Pearson’s made visits to roughly 800 parcels in town.

Tieman told the council last week that total assessed values had increased drastically.

“Our assessed value was about $396,000, and after the revaluation they’re $400 million,” she said. “One cent on the current tax rate that we have was worth $3,600. Under the new assessment, it’s worth $40,000. The change is phenomenal. It’s a 43-year difference.”

Tieman noted 367 properties decreased in valuation, while 446 properties increased in valuation.

“Of the 367 properties that went down, 126 were by less than $100,” she said. “Of the 446 that went up, 133 of them were by less than $100.”

While property values have changed, Tieman explained state law required municipalities reassessing taxable properties to maintain the same tax revenue as was levied in the prior fiscal year.

“Preliminary estimated taxes are based on the preliminary rollback rate,” she said. “The rollback rate is the rate we would charge to get the same amount of revenue we got in the old tax assessment.”

Councilman Richard Mais agreed.

“It’s going to be concerning to a lot of people because it’s going to look like the assessed value of your home has gone up and you are going to assume that your taxes are going up,” he said. “But that’s not necessarily true … Some people’s taxes are going to go down and some people’s taxes are going to go up.”

Tieman said each resident’s property card detailing the new valuation will be listed on a public online portal.

“It’s there to give you a perspective of what’s going on in your area,” she said. “If you have property on Bunting [Avenue] and you live on the ocean, it’s different than if you have property on the highway. And it’s different if you live on the bayside.”

Tieman explained property owners can schedule an informal appeal by contacting town hall. Informal appeals will be held in May and formal appeals will be held in June.

“The whole point of the informal appeal will be to get it right …,” she said. “We want it to be open, we want it to be transparent, and we want to work with you to make sure you are comfortable with the way in which it was done.”

For more information on the town’s revaluation, visit fenwickisland.delaware.gov/projects. To schedule a meeting to discuss a new assessment, contact Linda Martin, town clerk, at 302-539-3011, ext. 1, or email townclerk@fenwickisland.org.

“There’s some changes that were inevitable, but the whole thing was fair and that’s what we wanted it to be,” Tieman said. “Forty-three years have gone by. We need to put that in perspective.”

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.