Home News Local news 2005 Property Tax Bills to Be Mailed By Month's End, Official Says

2005 Property Tax Bills to Be Mailed By Month's End, Official Says


Jan. 17, 2007 — The 2005 residential and commercial property tax bills, due to be mailed in June 2006, are expected to be sent out at the end of the month, Celeste Lawrence, spokeswoman at the Lieutenant Governor's Office, said Wednesday.
She said the bills will be based on the 1998 property values. Lawrence said a computer software problem initially caused problems. "Then they had some printing issues," she said.
Tax Assessor Roy Martin didn't return phone calls requesting comment.
As to where the revaluation of property stands, Lawrence said that compiling the data is about 99 percent done. The new property values must then be calculated.
Lawrence said the 2006 property tax bills are expected to go out in June as scheduled. She said she did not know whether they would reflect the figures determined when properties were revalued.
"When we send out the bills, we'll let the public know," she said.
Although the revaluation is expected to increase property taxes, Delegate Donna M. Christensen said in a news release issued Wednesday that help on that front is on the way in the form of a federal bill.
She said the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday unanimously passed a bill to repeal the 1936 federal law that limits the local government's authority to assess and collect real property taxes.
The change is required because of a 2000 U.S. District Court ruling that mandated both commercial and residential properties be taxed at the same rate. This resulted in the revaluation now under way.
"Without the authority to limit such increases by capping such assessments or similar methods used by other jurisdictions, the revised statute may have the anomalous result of pricing land ownership beyond the reach of many Virgin Islanders," she said in the news release.
The bill still needs Senate approval.
Christensen aide Brian Modeste said that the bill made it through both the previous House and Senate, but each body passed a different version. Therefore, the entire process had to start over again after the new Congress took office.
While real estate agents are still selling houses, Diana Beam, owner of Re/Max Island Paradise Realty Inc., said Wednesday that she gets calls all the time from stateside homeowners who think the property tax bills went out but weren't received.
"The Virgin Islands government must not need the money," Beam said.
She said property owners worry that when they finally get the 2005 bills, the 2006 bills will follow just a few months later.
Beam also said that people want to know what the tax bills will be in the future because revaluation will change the figure.
"That's kind of scary," she said.
St. Thomas resident Judy Grybowski said Wednesday that she totally forgot that the property tax bill was still to come.
She said that now that she's reminded of the fact, she's worried that they will come in April when income tax payments are due.
However, Grybowski was philosophical about the delay. "I call it the paradise paradox," she said.
Julie San Martin, owner of Re/Max St. Croix, said the delay has caused insurmountable problems. She said that when a house is sold, the buyer receives a credit based on the anticipated tax owed by the seller. However, since the revaluation is not complete, nobody can determine what that credit will be for not only 2005, but 2006 and as far into 2007 as the seller owns the home.
"It's a complete and total mystery," she said.
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