Thousands of Petersburg properties incorrectly billed for real estate tax

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) – City officials in Petersburg admit to a major mix-up in real estate taxes. The city says thousands of properties have been underbilled, potentially meaning thousands of residents could pay more in the near future.

The city said it was made aware of the error a few weeks ago but first made the error public during its city council meeting on Tuesday.

The current property tax rate is about $1.27 per $100, but City Manager March Altman says the tax rate was incorrectly applied to last year’s property values, which were generally lower.

According to the city, around 65% of real estate in Petersburg has appreciated in value since last year.

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Altman says if a resident received a property revaluation notice in January that was higher than their previous property appraisal, then there’s a good chance you were underbilled in your last bill due at the end of the month.

“That’s our fault, completely; we take responsibility for that,” Altman said. “We are close to about 11,000 properties that could be impacted and therefore 11,000 bills.”

Petersburg resident Roslyn Williams says she is horrified because she will likely have to pay more than the dollar amount listed on her most recent real estate tax bill.

“They should have gotten that right from the start,” Williams said. “I think they should definitely eat and chew that.”

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But Altman says that mistake could cost the city as much as $2.5 million if not corrected. The city says they plan to collect that additional amount from residents later.

“We are working on a solution that will most likely be an additional billing that will make up this difference in this payment. We’re going to roll that out, and when we roll out that extra billing, we’re going to give citizens plenty of time to make that extra payment,” Altmann said. “First and foremost, pay the taxes on the sent invoice that was due at the end of the month.”

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But residents like Williams say she will be reluctant to pay more, but won’t be happy about it.

“I think if they get things right, the city will always come out on top. But when it doesn’t, and people are being billed haphazardly because of someone else’s mistake, we end up paying for it, and that’s not fair,” Williams said.

The city has not yet determined when these additional bills will come out. It is also still being investigated how this mistake was made in the first place.

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