C’ville Real Estate Assessments to Increase

Charlottesville’s assessors have found that the value of property has increased in town, Henry Graff reports for NBC 29, and that will be reflected in real estate tax bills. On average, the increase is 2-3%, but some folks will see much higher jumps. Some Fifeville homes are up 18%, the gentrified 10th and Page is up 9%, and Belmont is up 8%. If you’re in Greenbrier, you’re in luck, tax-wise—that’s dropping 10%, on average.

Remember that assessments are based on the actual sale property of houses in a given neighborhood, with houses that haven’t sold recently being estimated based on comparable homes in the area. If you think your assessment is wrong, remember that you can appeal it. (But be honest with yourself. How much would you want for your house to sell it right now?) Next up: the debate over where to set the tax rate.

86 thoughts on “C’ville Real Estate Assessments to Increase”

  1. We live in an eclectic section of Fry’s Spring, and exactly zero houses have sold in our neighborhood in the last 2 years. One house on our street was on the market for over a year without so much as one offer, even after drastically lowering the asking price.
    We are worried that our home value has decreased by 20% or more! Let’s see what the city comes up with.

  2. I’ll be honest…. I would sell my home right now for $40,000 less than the city appraised it at in 2008. But I expect to see a substantial increase in assessment anyway. The city needs money too bad. If my house burned to the ground tonight I would leave the lot vacant and rebuild elsewhere outside the city.

  3. Generally speaking, I am not one to complain about taxes, but I can’t stand the thought that the city is fabricating this because it needs this money to pay for crap I don’t want anyway: rebricking and a questionable new water supply. In my neighborhood as well, nothing has sold for ages, so I don’t know how they can make the case for increased property values.

  4. I also live in Fry’s Spring and a house around the corner was on the market for over a year and then was taken off the market. I too will be interested to see my assessment. I have been told by several people that their water bills doubled in December even though they thought their water usage had not changed. Check your water bills and report back if you see a drastic change.

  5. Calm down everyone ;) The City fathers know what is best for all of you. They will care for your every need…

  6. ead: OMG! That’s the funniest joke I’ve heard in a longtime, “Father knows best.” Wait, wasn’t that a TV show, like a hundred years ago?

  7. My home in Earlysville just appraised at 1.6% more than last year’s assessment (I applied for an HLOC).

  8. revenue = total value x rate, right? If Overrun O’Connell wants more money and council tells what rate to use to construct his budget in November, then his has about 1.5 months to figure what rate to raise the assessments by filling in values for revenue and rate, and comparing this year’s value to last year’s total value using percentages. They then manipulate the assessment values of each neighborhood and commercial district so that they can apply a specific rate of increase to each sub category. Last year, I heard Ray Caddell say that he and his wife own or manage tons of rental units in every part of the city. They were amazed that their assessments were flat except for those of their duplexes and townhouses. All of them went up between 17 and 18%. Amazing isn’t it?
    VOD, glad you mentioned the rebricking. Walked down the Mall today from the bank and did notice anybody repairing any underpining although they have started laying new brick at the Central Place. As long as Overrun is still in his position, we can count on our assessments being manipulated to cover the costs of his projects, even if the country goes into a depression and not one unit is sold in the city.
    Soon they will announce the deadline date for appealing your assessments. The time limit is short so you have to be quick. I neighbor of mine about twenty years ago when Cole Hendrix (O’Connell’s mentor and boss) was city manager, used to appeal his assessment every year, made them come to his property and show him why the value of his home had gone in price when he didn’t have a/c and hadn’t made any improvements. They would say that comparable houses in the area sold for more and he said none of them comparable to his house because he only had one bathroom. They reduced his assessment a couple of times.

  9. TJ, that is correct. Water consumpion doubled for a lot of residents I have talked to, even though they all insist they DID NOT use the extra water. My family went from 5,000 gallons to almost 10,500 gallons even though we feel certain had actually used less. This means my bill went from $50 to over $100 just for water. I have no leaks within the house and no leaks between my home and the sreet. The city simply raped people to get that extra dollar. But whay can you do about it? The girl at city hall said the water meter confirms I used the water and I have no choice but to pay for it. Like I said above, if my home ever bruns down, I will keep my lot but rebuild elsewhere. The city will lose taxes on the home, and will never rape me again on a water bill.

  10. @ Cville Eye

    “They then manipulate the assessment values of each neighborhood and commercial district so that they can apply a specific rate of increase to each sub category.”

    That’s quite an accusation to make. Mr. Caddell’s experience is certainly suggestive, but hardly conclusive. Do you have evidence that Mr. O’Connell is somehow influencing Mr. Barbour to falsify assessments? I’m no lawyer, but that sounds like an extremely serious crime, one that should be investigated. Or perhaps you have a statistical argument to make?

  11. @ Demopublican

    “The girl at city hall said the water meter confirms I used the water and I have no choice but to pay for it.”

    Did you? You could check your meter by running water from a tap at a known rate and seeing if the meter runs at the right rate. Then you can check your usage once a day or so and you’ll know whether the City’s figures are accurate.

  12. @Adam Soroka, now I don’t have hard evidence, just anecdotal. I couldn’t get hard evidence even if I were the FBI. Do you think I have recorders sitting in offices in City Hall or city-owned cars?
    No, it is NOT illegal for the assessor’s office to determine the fair market value of a property by applying a normalized rate to an area, it’s a method used considerably around the state. It is considered an expeditious method rather than trying to hire enough to actually do individual site visits.
    Glad you reminded me of one of my points. If you question your assessment, then immediately file an appeal. Then someone is supposed actually visit your site and verify the assessment. Anecdotally, it seems that more assessments have been reduced than have remained the same (I’ve heard of a couple of instances where the assessment actually went up, but, in each case, there were improvements that the city had no knowledge of because there was no building permit issued).
    Do I believe this procedure of determining what percentages are needed? I will go to my graving believing so. Several of my neighbors have complained to City Hall for the past three years about assessments, implying they may have to move out, and, this year our assessments are flat despite some big time sales last year.

  13. @ Cville Eye

    “I couldn’t get hard evidence even if I were the FBI.”

    Then I don’t understand why you made the accusation. To say that a situation appears suspicious, or that a certain explanation for it appears likely to you, is certainly reasonable, but you clearly accused City officials of behavior for which you admit you have no evidence, and you did so anonymously in a public forum. That doesn’t seem right to me.

    “No, it is NOT illegal for the assessor’s office to determine the fair market value of a property by applying a normalized rate to an area, it’s a method used considerably around the state.”

    I’m afraid you misunderstood my point. Your claim (as I understood it, and I may very well misunderstand it) was that the City Manager and the City Assessor colluded to provide tax assessments they knew to be incorrect and not accurate depictions of the value of the properties on the market, using normalized rates they knew to be incorrect. Examine this, from the Constitution:

    “All assessments of real estate and tangible personal property shall be at their fair market value, to be ascertained as prescribed by law.”

    Article X, Section 2.

    Again, I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but the accusation you made seems pretty clearly to run against the grain of that rule.

  14. Adam, I don’t need to do anything at this point, because I wasn’t the only resident who was raped on their water bills this month. Think about it, how could my family possibly use 350 gallons of water each day when compared to the 160 to 175 gallons per day we used in the preceeding month? Especially when we felt our habits had not changed and we actually used less water. I washed no cars. I didn’t use water outside for anything. Now think about the total amount the city collected by overcharging people $30, $40 and $50 on each bill. The amount will probably pay for the new fleet of cars and trucks the city gets in every March or April. Back on topic though, I recorded the tax assessment on the city manager’s home last night. I want to see his 2009 decrease in assessment since he lives in or near the Greenbrier neighborhood which supposedly went down 10%. Based on his current assessment of $394,000, his 2009 assessment might go as low as $355,000 while other people have 3% to 10% increases. This stinks to high heaven of the “good ole boys” looking out for each other.

  15. 407 Altamont Circle sold 6/2/2008 at $925,000 (obviously its fair market value). It is still assessed at $744,500? Is this legal in accordance with state laws? Please answer my question before you come up another. Thanks.

  16. By the way, since it’s public record and online, another interesting assessment to watch will be that of Julian Taliaferro who is on City Council. Will his current assessment of $597,00 be going up 3%? Going up 10%? Or did he fall in the neighborhoods going down 10%? There’s also a “David Brown” listed in the Greenbrier neighborhood which will see his assessment go down 10% according to press releases. Is this one of our city councilors as well?

  17. @ Cville Eye

    Firstly, I don’t know whether $925,000 is “obviously” the fair market value of that property, and I’d like to know how you do. What measure did you use? It sold at that value, which may have represented a premium or discount for all kinds of possible reasons specific to that transaction. To my understanding, a fair market value is not set by the most recent transaction on a parcel. It’s an imputed price with many more factors.

    Secondly, the question at stake is not whether the assessment is perfectly accurate (which it never could be) but whether it represents the Assessor’s genuine attempt to accurately gauge a defined fair market value, or whether it represents (as you claim) the Assessor’s attempt to juggle numbers to arrive at a certain preconceived value, which itself depends on the City budget. If the former, then the Assessor is doing his job. If the latter, then the Assessor is doing something else entirely. If we don’t think that the Assessor is doing his job well, then we have the right and duty as citizens to criticize his office, to do so publicly, and to offer constructive suggestions as to how he might improve his work. If the latter, we have very different responsibilities.

  18. @Adam Soroka, “The price that an interested but not desperate buyer would be willing to pay and an interested but not desperate seller would be willing to accept on the open market assuming a reasonable period of time for an agreement to arise.” What is fair market value?&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us . I have no intentions of providing with the data for the recent sales in that condo to show that, considering sq. footage and it’s comparables in the downtown Mall area, it’s in the right ballpark. It also illustrates why real estate agents are usually involved in helping their clients, buyers and sellers, to determine what is an appropriate fair market value range for a property and why the City’s assessment doesn’t determine it and often doesn’t have any realistic bearing on it.
    As far as your second goes, City Council usually tells Overrun what tax rate to use in preparing his budget in November. O’Connell has his budget prepared in January and simply waits until he get more definite figures from the federal and state to tweak it. They have developed a wonderful spreadsheet that allows them to just plug those figures in. Somehow he always has enough real estate property taxes to cover his budget and then some by February. Thus he must know what the city-wide assesssment figures are going to be before he creates the budget. He certainly can’t tinker with the tax rate unless Council indicates to him that they would like to see several budgets presented based upon different tax rates. The problem is that the asssessments issued in January don’t apply until July. Nobody’s saying that there is something crooked going on in City Hall with money under the table, it’s the system.

  19. City real estate assessments IMHO are nothing more than an exercise in vodoo science, i.e….how many feathers (taxpayer dollars) can we pluck from the goose and gander(taxpayers) before they begin to squawk.

  20. Sorta off topic, but the citizens of Augusta County have certainly started squawking! What did they have, a 30% to 35% increase? If Augusta gets by with it, Charlottesville will do the same in 2010 or 2011, watch and see.

  21. @ Demopublican

    “Especially when we felt our habits had not changed and we actually used less water.”

    So you did not actually measure your water usage?

  22. Demopublican, are you sure you did not run you Christmas lights using a water wheel? I did, while we were spending a lot of time out of state. I was about to call to see if we had leaks to get them fixed before we put the house on the market, but so many people have complained about their bill that I’m not going to waste the money.

  23. TJ and Demopublican– do you have an idea if any doubled water bills occurred anywhere else besides Fry’s Spring? We’re on the eastern county/city line, and our bill mysteriously doubled as well.

  24. @ Cville Eye

    I have no intentions of providing with the data for the recent sales in that condo to show that, considering sq. footage and it’s comparables in the downtown Mall area, it’s in the right ballpark.

    So you don’t have any figures to show that the City is wrong. Again, I’m not arguing that the City’s assessment is accurate. I’m asking you if you have a better, more defensibly accurate assessment, and you just admitted that you do not.

    Somehow he always has enough real estate property taxes to cover his budget and then some by February. Thus he must know what the city-wide assesssment figures are going to be before he creates the budget.

    This simply does not follow. Any sensible budget would accomplish the same thing. In fact, this is a major purpose of budgeting; to be sure that you don’t outspend you predicted revenues.

    They have developed a wonderful spreadsheet that allows them to just plug those figures in.

    Are you suggesting that the Assessor used a rigged spreadsheet to calculate values, one that uses budget figures to raise or lower assessments? That’s a very concrete accusation.

    I just telephoned the Assessor’s Office and was told quite clearly that the assessors are operating according to the training of the important associations in the field:




    I was also told that their procedures in use are is use generally across the Commonwealth, and that City Council sets the tax rate and the frequency of assessment, but that office procedures are regulated by Richmond.

  25. I could probably make a good case that our house, if on the market today, couldn’t possibly sell at the assessed value. Nonetheless, I know that the county is hurting in terms of its budget and I’m not currently taxed beyond my means to pay, so I don’t think I’d appeal it.

  26. @Adam Soroka, if you want to do the analysis yourself, then go to http://realestate.charlottesville.org/LandRover.asp, select Address, then type in Altamont. I get paid to do this kind of work.
    “So you don’t have any figures to show that the City is wrong.” What I’m saying is often the city’s assessed value has nothing to do with the fair market value that is thought to be required by state law. I also doubt if any other locality’s assessment do either. Many of them do not even reassess every year, or at least didn’t. Therefore, they must be basing their assessments using other criteria. If they are, then that leaves the door open for arbitrariness.
    “I’m asking you if you have a better, more defensibly accurate assessment, and you just admitted that you do not.” No, I said the $900,000 price tag was “in the right ballpark.” In this place, the assessment is $180,500 less than the sales price. The taxes on that difference is around $1800.
    “Are you suggesting that the Assessor used a rigged spreadsheet to calculate values, one that uses budget figures to raise or lower assessments?” The assessor doesn’t have access to the spreadsheet.
    Soroka, I’m tiring of this game; “…office procedures are regulated by Richmond.” Richmond regulates through the code, they do not evaluate.

  27. @ Cville Eye

    “I’m tiring of this game”

    I heartily agree. You have made accusation after accusation and you haven’t produced any evidence at all to back any of them up. Let’s consider the conversation closed.

  28. CVille Eye, I talked to three more people this morning that said their water useage doubled during the December billing cycle for no logical reason. It’s no use wasting your money to have anybody check your homes for leaks. I think the city pulled a slick one over on the people, and there’s not a thing the people can do about it. City Hall doesn’t even want to discuss the issue. All they say is pay the bill or find the leak in your home, produce a receipt for a leak repair and they will then adjust the bill. I can’t produce a receipt when I don’t have a leak.

  29. Lonnie, I believe, once I terrace and re-landscape by backyard that I can get much more than my assessment. I have no intentions of appealing mine either. Last year’s tax amount may help sell my house in this market. I wonder what data did the city use to say that housing values for the city has risen this past year when hundreds of home have sat on the market unsold, many below their assessments, and others were dropped from the market because they didn’t sell, and others were sold at auction, sometimes for a pittance because the owners couldn’t sell them before foreclosure? Did the city just evaluate the sale price or those that did sell and compared those prices to their previous assessed values? The late-year city sales data was not available to them so what data are they using?

  30. I wonder if the previous bill was an estimated bill and the current one is an actual that includes a correction for underestimating the previous bill.
    How new is the city’s utilities billing system? It sounds to me there may be a glitch in its batch processing routine. Last, are you able to read the meter yourself? Is the amount you used since the bill in proportion to what they claim you used last month?

  31. Regarding the whole water fee issue, I assume you all have been following the news right? You know that they’ve been talking about expanding the Ragged Mountain reservoir and/or dredging. Now you know where the vast amount of money for those projects is going to come from… Pre-existing residents. This is the real cost of new development. Essentially, you are paying for Biscuit Run’s future water supply.

    I would advocate instead that the rate of water bills fluctuate based on usage, so that people using less are charged a lower rate. I’d also suggest that when we have major projects like this meant to benefit future residents that new residents should pay the bulk of the expenses for water and other infrastructure improvements.

  32. We in the city have a tiered usage billing system. Everyone pays a minimun amount each month which entitiles you to use up to a certain limited amount. Between that amount and another upper limit is a higher rate, and so on and so on. The sewer bill assumes that whatever water comes into your house goes out through the sewer including the water you wash your car with or put on your lawn so we don’t use sewer meters.
    As you say, we will be building a large tub at Ragged Mountain (Is this project going to bother Camp Holiday Trails does anybody know?) to hold over 2 billion gallons of water so that we can use 18 million gallons a day. We will not need this capacity until fifty years from now (long after the Biscuit is supposed to be baked). Some of the advocates for this plan said that our forbearers left us with enough water (they forget that SFRR was built in the sixties when I became a forbearer, so we should be happy to provide the infrastructure for those who will be coming here fifty years from now. I guess we’re just used spending money now to provide stuff for those who will migrate here late. The expansion of the transit service for example is not for the people in HOllymead or Woodbrook. Most of them do not want to catch a bus from work to the sitters, then to the cleaners, then to the grocery store, then to the soccer field, then home. They’ll continue to drive. It’s for the future residents who will buy a home partially because either the neighborhood has transit or is “transit ready.” Who knows, some future dweller might want to move here from Portland, Oregon and wouldn’t know how to get around. By then, we’ll have bus rapid transit set up for tens of millions to that they can ride from UVA to North Pointe. We want to use transit to make it more convenient for those who wish to pressure the county to expand its growth areas. Road building doesn’t do enough.
    BTW, I saw where something called Ragged Mountain Farm was just sold for I believe $1,775,000. I would imagine it’s somewhere near Ragged Mtn. If they’re going to expand the natural area to at least 1200 acres, it would be fitting for another Glenmore type community to be built. It’s all can be possible if we pay higher water rates to put in the roads to “increse the capacity” at Ragged Mtn.

  33. CVille Eye, we have actual readings every month in my neighborhood, there are no more “estimated” bills. We have a new electronic meter that transmits the meter reading to a city truck’s computer as it drives by. As far as I know, residents aren’t suppose to tamper with these meters or take the covers off at the sidewalk. A city employee came by when I complained, took the cover off, and said there are no leaks between the street and my home. And I have no leaks or running toilets inside my home. During the November billing cycle I used 5,027 gallons. The December billing cycle was 10,420 gallons, even though we figure we actually used less water. I suspect the January billing cycle will be back to normal. I honestly believe the city simply raped quite a few people because they need money so bad. Too many people have told me their water consumption doubled for the December billing cycle for no reason.

  34. Demopublican, are you on the budget payment plan? Maybe they were doing an end-of-year reconciling.

  35. It may be a flaw in the batch program that prints the bills and updates your account. If the program started to run and was abnormally terminated, then it would have needed an Audit File to read to see what accounts would have been billed before the crash, so that those accounts would not be processed again. If this file wasn’t used, it’s a good chance you and others were double billed when the program ran again. Get the word out and see how many other people around the city had the same thing happen.

  36. Sounds like a reasonable explanation. But the fact remains you can’t fight City Hall. I have found Albemarle County to be much more agreeable lately. I put a Cadillac in storage about 24 months ago. The county kept trying to charge me for a county decal. I told them the car was no longer registered in Virginia and was not licensed to travel on public roadways. So they deducted the decal fee. They admitted they had made a mistake and corrected it immediately. Whenever a disagreement arises with the city, all I get from the them is, “Pay it or else, you have no choice in the matter!”

  37. @ Demopublican
    At some point the city will have to reconcile the meter’s actual reading. They cannot continue to claim that your billed usage is higher without the data from the meter backing it up. Does your bill have the meter’s serial number on it? (I have a well, so I don’t know what is on the bill) If so, does it match your meter? Maybe, you’re being billed for someone else’s meter.

  38. Steve, the reading on the meter right now seems to be at a point where the December reading would have matched the reading on my December bill. But even so, there is no way on God’s Green Earth that I and others I have spoken with doubled their water consumption in the December billing cycle. It should have gone down if anything. If this continues bill to bill, I have no choice but ask that the city replace my meter. If they refuse, I have no other choice than to dig up the pipe between the street and my home, at my expense, to insure there is not a leak even though the city employee said the little magical red thing on the meter tells him there is no leak between my home and the street. It’s a pretty frustrating thing to deal with. It’s just like having a new car that suddenly gets half it’s normal gas mileage almost overnight, and the dealership says there nothing wrong with the car, that it must be the way you are driving.

  39. I would be really frustrated with that too, Demorepublican. I have not noticed a dramatic increase in my city water bill, but I live in Belmont. Did you say that this happened mainly to people in Fry’s Springs?

  40. I was surprised when I opened my 2009 assessment just now. It did go down 4%. As it should have in today’s real estate market. Now if they take a closer look and realize that I need new and modern replacement windows badly, new carpet throughout the entire house, and new paint on all the interior walls, it should go down another $20,000 in my opinion. At least the city is headed in the right direction in my assessment after years of double digit increases, but they still need to look around and sharpen their pencil again.

  41. @ Demopublican
    If the reading of the meter and the bill agree, then you must be losing the water somewhere. Turn your water off at the cut off and see if the meter continues to record a usage. If it does, the water has to be going somewhere and not into your home. You cannot just run water at a known rate inside the house and then check the meter for that usage. A small crack will lack sufficient pressure for water to escape in quantity when you have water running inside the home.

  42. Why not just shut off anything that uses water (water heater, ice maker, etc.), check your meter, leave the house for the day, and check the meter again when you get back? If it’s moved, you know you’ve got a leak in your house. If it hasn’t, then you know it’s accurate. Accusing the city of shenanigans would seem like the last possible conclusion to draw, not the first one, especially if the meter and your bill agree.

    Disclosure: I don’t have a water meter, I have a well. I’ve never had a water meter, and wouldn’t know one if I saw it.

  43. “However, if the leak is located in a pipe that is on the homeowner’s side of the meter, then the homeowner must contact a plumber for repair. If you are unsure where the leak is, we will be happy to locate it for you.” —

    Walso, The above is a direct quote from the city web site. The city and I both assumed I had a very serious leak. They sent a worker by to locate the leak for me, just as they promise in the above quote. Everything inside my home using water was turned off. He took the cover off the water meter and said a little magical red thing on the meter tells him there is no water currently being drawn into the home and there was no leak between the meter and my home. There are no leaks in my home. First floor kitchen, no leaks. First floor bathroom, no leaks. Second floor kitchen, no leaks. Second floor bathroom, no leaks. Outside faucets, no leaks. (If the toilets leak between flushes you can hear them drawing water in to refill the resovoir every so often) Our water habits in December in no way could have supported a jump from a 4,000 gallon useage in November to a 10,500 gallon useage in December. Grabbing a few older bills just now, in the May billing cycle I only used 5,580 gallons and was washing cars outdoors often. July, still washing cars, I only used 5,551 gallons. September, washing ALL my cars and trucks before the cooler weather set in, I still only used 6,171 gallons. The thought of shenanigans comes into play because I don’t have a 4,000 to 5,000 gallon monthly leak, the city confirmed this, and so many other people I have talked to said their water consumption in December also doubled with no reasonable explanation. Something else that disturbs me on the city web page is the fact they say their meter reading truck can read 10 to 30 meters per second. At this rate they would be electronically reading water meters blocks before they could even get to them. I’ll sort it all out sooner or later, I’m simply waiting for the January billing cycle to show up in my mailbox. One more 10,500 gallon water bill and I will have to bring in a backhoe and start digging. Now in answering your last question Steve, I am under the impression and seem to recall the city saying residents should not open or tamper with the water meter covers any longer since the new electronics were installed in them. I will have to inquire on this Monday before I go ou and pry the cover off to do any independent testing and monitoring.

  44. I guess I’m confused. Is the water meter not affixed to your house? It seems to me that if you had a leak between the water main and your meter that it wouldn’t be registered by the meter. The meter can only measure the water that flows through it; anything lost upstream from the meter would be invisible to such a system. So even if you had a geyser in your front yard, that wouldn’t show up on your bill.

    It’d be cool if those of us on wells had some way to know how much water we use. We’ve done all sorts of water conservation-y things over the years, but with no metric, we’ve got no idea how much we’ve saved.

  45. Waldo, in the city the water meters are generally right next to the sidewalk, not on the house. Thus, if there’s a leak between the the sidewalk and the house, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility, not the city’s.

  46. @ Demopublican
    “Should not open” does not mean you “cannot open” to get a reading for yourself. There is no law that says you cannot. The city is only concerned with you damaging the meter, which would prevent them from getting an actual reading and therefore costing the city money. Damaging the meter is against the law.

  47. It is very easy to turn the water off at your main by the street. What happens to the meter when you do that? Also, most houses have another water stop point right at the point the water comes into the house.

    David Brown lives on Rugby between Preston and Rose Hill, and houses are not selling well in that area currently.

    J. Taliferiero (sp?) lives by CHS. Houses in that area hold their selling points pretty well as it is one of the most desirable areas in Cville. However, his is in about the worst location on that street. Same house 4 lots further up is worth much more.

    Neither of those guys are going to do anything stupid and no way do I see any “fix” in the works. Too obvious, too transparent and NOT worth the little savings that a few points might gather…

  48. We sure did get off topic in this thread! My bad!

    My water meter is in the center of the pedestrian sidewalk out front. The portion of the pipe from the meter to where it enters my home, about 30 feet, is the only place there could be a leak. And the city employee confirmed there is no leak in this 30 feet. There’s also no physical evidence anywhere around this 30 feet of pipe to indicate there is a water leak.

    Let’s put this thing into perspective a little. I talked to my secretary yesterday and she used 1,000 gallons of water last month (her home is identical to mine). There wasn’t any type of drastic increase in her December billing cycle. This means she uses a daily average of about 33 gallons of water per day in washing dishes, washing clothes and taking a shower every day. Multiply this by 3 people in my family and you arrive at 3,000 gallons per month, even though I usually use 4,000 to 5,500 gallons a month. But an increase from 4,000 gallons in November to 10,500 gallons in December indicates there has to be a leak somewhere. But it has been confirmed there is no leak anywhere. There’s more than just one person (me) sitting around and waiting to see what surprise their January billing cycle brings them. Did all of these other people develop a leak and double their water consumption in the exact same month I did? If everybody’s water consumption goes back to normal, is it fair to assume some type of shenanigans took place somewhere along the line? I think CVille Eye was on the right track maybe, some type of glitch in the software reading the meters or some type of glitch in the billing system interpreting the meter readings. This could even be human error while the programs are running or when the programs were interrupted for whatever reason? Now, back to my regularly scheduled life, which basically involves looking for a life. :)

  49. I might know a person or two that can help. Kick Waldo your email and he can forward to me if you wish. Waldo knows me well and will vouch if you need.

  50. I live in Fry’s Springs and my assessment went was down about 3.7%. The assessment is also within $1000 of my spring 2008 purchase price.
    I am pretty satisfied. Since citywide they went up, I expect the rate to hold at 95 cents or even drop by a couple cents. Less taxes for me.
    Also, after I bought by house I got a questionnaire from the City Assessor seeking details on the house. Amusing questions like: “Do you feel like you got the house for below-market value?” “Have you made any improvements?” “Did the seller pay your closing costs?” Et cetera et cetera. Uh…no. Leave me alone, City Assessor.
    What do they think people are, stupid?

  51. I’m sticking a personal request in because it’s something that’s important to me.

    Please stick with calling rape rape and calling other things what they are. If the city pulled shenanigans with a water bill (or tax assessment or anything else) then you got robbed, not raped.

    Words matter and not diluting the definitions of bad things by trying to make them sound worse or more shocking is important. Being robbed is bad. It’s also different than being raped. They’re both very specific things and we should treat them as such.

    Thanks for considering this everyone.

  52. What the hell is happening on this blog? Has someone been raped and I missed it? Where’s the decency in the people who frequent this blog? Chris when you find out more about this crime let me and the bloggers know. Just my HO.

  53. Let me just make a few corrections here, outside of the water bill issue. The figures used in 29’s piece involved new construction. Why is that important? The average homeowner concerned about assessment should not be focussed on that number because it reflects total taxable property in that neighborhood. That includes any increase in assessment in existing property AND new property built since last year. If they heard the Channel 29 report they would assume property in Fifeville is going up 18%. The reality is that the assessed property from 2007 to 2008 in Fifeville went up 11% on average. Some property was assessed higher, some lower as it is an statistical average. Using 18% is misleading since it represents the increase in total property value in that neighborhood and most who heard that report would assume their house value and taxable assessment went up by that amount. I make this correction because we have been dealing with a lot of calls concerned after that report. I have asked for a correction to the original story which was teased as if you live in Charlottesville your tax bill will go up. Not true. Nearly 30 out of the 48 neighborhoods will average a flat assessment or a decrease. This is the second smallest increase in assessment in the City’s history. That should have been the story.

  54. Ric, what can you tell us about the water bills? How many people have actually called in complaints that their water consumption doubled, even though their December useage habits would actually have been indicative of an decrease in consumption instead? Have any water meters been diagnosed as defective and replaced? If I get another outrageous water bill for the January billing cycle, will the city replace my water meter? If my water consumption goes back to normal for the January billing cycle, will they adjust my December billing to what it should have been? I would pay my bill and shut up if I was the only city resident who felt they were raped in the December billing cycle.

  55. Let’s try this again.

    Demopublican: you didn’t get raped. Please stop writing that you did. If what you write is true then you were robbed. Or perhaps defrauded.

    Why is it important to use the term “rape” in a context where it’s clearly not the case?

  56. @ Demopublican

    You may find this a caviling remark, but I make it with the strength that it’s already once been made:

    The word “rape” is inappropriate here. There are a plethora of perfectly reasonable words to use to express your dissatisfaction. “Rape” is not one of them. “Rape” has an exact meaning. You have no reason to use it. How about:

    ripped off

    or even


    But not “raped”.

  57. How about “roundhouse kick to my wallet?” :)

    This thread has pretty much fizzled out. Waldo needs to find a new and interesting topic for us to toss around this weekend! I have faith in Waldo finding something worthy of a hot and heated debate!

  58. Ohh, there’s not much to look into. The city worker who responded to my residence confirmed there are no leaks between the street and my home, there are no leaks inside my home, and city hall says I have no choice but to pay the entire bill since the meter says I doubled my consumption and used the water billed for in December. You know the old saying, you can’t fight city hall. Another 10,500 gallon water bill and I have no choice but to hire somebody and start digging.

  59. If the city wants to be financially responsible they could start with by eliminating worthless city spokesweenie positions that pay $93k a year.

    And if said city employee wants to be a news person, then they should go be one.

    Oh wait… he has already tried that? How’d that work out? Bummer.

  60. The county could too for that matter. Department heads could be responsible for press releases, or designate an employee to do it for them. It’s just more useless people feeding at the public trough. On top of the salary you also have to add in the cost of their benefits package. This would easily take a $93,000 salary up to $140,000.

  61. It’s amazing how nature’s detritus moans and groans when someone with what they lack – facts, knowledge, education, intelligence – explains what the NDs don’t know. Others appreciate Ric. It was so much better when we had a draft, messy wars, and plenty of cannons to cull the herd.

  62. Real nice, Ms Christian. I bet everybody with a son, daughter, brother, sister or other relative fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan presently really appreciates your remark.

    God bless ’em, their families and this country!

  63. Cville Eye, you would be shocked to learn the salary and benefits package of many city positions now. I would like to see one of the local media outlets request the information and publish it like The Daily Progress did back in he mid 70s.
    But just like public employees feeding at the public trough nationwide, they still wonder why they have to go without pay raises or suffer pay cuts during the current state of the economy. A lot of cities and counties nationwide are issuing pay cuts. Those feeding at the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County public troughs had better feel blessed instead of whining. We’ll never see tham have to take a pay cut.

  64. I believe one of Rob Schilling’s guest had that information with him on a recent show, so it’s available. If you remember I have been saying all along that Charlottesville will be the only locality in central VA that will hand out raises. This is doing a time when businesses in the city are closing their doors and houses are at auction. It’s called “Buying Votes.” There are over a thousand employees with the city and the school system and they have family and lots of friends. As long as they keep getting raises and the staffing is maintained, they, their families and their friends will vote for the raise-givers. Works every time.

  65. I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue with the pay-for-performance (come to work) and the market-rate-adjustment (slush fund for O’Connell to reward his most loyal employees).

  66. @ I’m just sayin…

    Pretty harsh sentiment. I dealt with Ric when I worked in the local media. He’s not a bad guy and doesn’t deserve to have a bunch of crap kicked all over him by some anonymous malcontent just because he takes issues with the way 29 reported a story.

  67. Thank you Woah. I’ve learned that even though I’m just staff, folks feel as though they can toss a few, particularly anonomously. Being the middle guy is challenging but when you feel you are working for and with quality people it minimizes the spokeswenie and Director of Miscommunication comments. And if I tried the news position a few times and survived, this is a pretty good place to be.

  68. At that money – it ought to be. Now stop blogging and get back to work. It’s our dime you’re wasting.

  69. Ric is a communications director, and I for one am glad to see that he keeps up with the blogs. Blogs are where a lot of people get their news and where a lot of communication is happening these days.

  70. Depnding on the firewalls and other security on some city owned computers, Ric Barrick may or may not be reading it now. Even if he posted his comments at 10:30 a.m. it would technically be his morning break maybe. Time isn’t really an issue in city employment anyway. :)

    I worked for the city for over two decades. I estimate 98% of my days involved work enough to keep me busy about 3 hours a day at best. And yet the department heads were always asking for more manpower, never had enough people to get the job done supposedly. Every year at budget time it was the same old dog and pony show, “I need at least one more employee!”, “I just can’t get the work done right now with the mapower I have!”, “I have got to have one more employee, even if the city taxpayers have to fund the position 100%!” Every year, same old drama. My opinion, for what’s it worth, I felt they simply wanted more employees so even more of the “good ole boys” could sit around, drink coffee, ake 2 and 3 hour lunch breaks, and chat all day. And yes, I am guilty of some of what I speak of. After I got my 3 hours of work done. It wasn’t unusual to sit in a restaurant for a 2 hour lunch while chatting with upper levels of management who were also present. If only people really knew the truth about local, state and federal employees feeding at the public trough!

  71. Even if he posted his comments at 10:30 a.m. it would technically be his morning break maybe.

    Yup. I deal with my various blogs during my morning, afternoon, and lunchtime breaks, for which I have a total of 50 minutes allotted daily.

    Speaking of which, I hear the microwave beeping with my pasta. :)

  72. Why doesn’t someone do a FOIA of city salaries and benefits and publish it on this site? (Just like UVA salaries are published?) I dare one of you to do it.

  73. @ Publius

    I double-dog-dare you to do just that yourself. Incidentally, just as a point of information, salaries of University faculty are published. Salaries of staff (like myself) are not.

  74. Publius, I think a lone individual will have a hard time getting any information out the city, FOIA request or no FOIA request. Unless this lone individual hires an attorney to represent them in the FOIA request.

    The one and only time I requested records by FOIA, the records were “accidentally” destroyed. And yet I and my attorney found an employee who would testify under oath that he was assigned to destroy some records, and he felt absolutely sure the records he destroyed were in fact the records I had requested. Ohh yeah, the records were destroyed, but it doesn’t seem to have been an accident. The records would have proven several county employees conspired and were guilty of some pretty serious wrongdoing.

    It’s going to take a media outlet such as The Daily Progress, The Hook, the Richmond Times Dispatch, Channel 16/19 News, or Channel 29 News to compose a FOIA request and get the information to publish.

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