The Fauquier Taxpayers Association (FTA) advocates on behalf of the County taxpayers. We recognize that the Fauquier County Commissioner of Revenue has considerable discretion in certain tax related areas. As such, the FTA asked candidates for this position to answer the following questions. We encourage all Republican primary voters to review these responses and to vote on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

Respectfully,
Thomas H. Valk, M.D., Chair
Fauquier Taxpayers Association


CARL WIBERG

(received May 24, 2019)

What aspects of your formal education and professional experience most prepares you to assume the office of Commissioner of Revenue in Fauquier County?

I have worked for eight different Commissioners over the last 11 years. In the last five years I have completed 150 hours of IAAO continuing education. My background is primarily rural real estate assessment but I understand the duties and responsibilities of the office as a whole. I can statically evaluate mass appraisal valuations. I was a business owner for 13 years. I hired and trained employees, established pay roll, paid local, state and federal taxes, generated new and in-house sales and serviced the existing client base. I did everything small business owners do to create, grow and sustain a small business. I sold the company in 2005 and began studying real estate valuation.

What are the Commissioner’s responsibilities regarding land use valuations?

If a parcel is in land use, it is assessed at both its market, and use rate but is taxed at its use rate. Parcels may be removed from the land use program for delinquent taxes. If there is a change in use, the Commissioner calculates, and the Treasurer bills any applicable rollback taxes. The Commissioner’s office validates land use status at regular intervals, determines non-qualifying acreage and maintains the integrity of the program. Open space agreements are reviewed upon their filing at the Clerk’s Office and the resulting open space land use qualification is determined.

How would you handle land use valuations especially with regards to their impact upon agricultural development?

The purpose of land use is land preservation. We are preserving land from development. Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture as well as Open Space by their nature preclude development. We are losing farmers nationally as young people are not entering the profession as rapidly as those retiring from it. The land use programs provide the means and incentives for entrepreneurs to pursue agricultural and agritourism ventures which provide a benefit to local commerce and improve the quality of life for the county as a whole. Currently there is growth in “field to table”, part time boutique operations and grape production. Fauquier has done a better job than most in protecting its farmers.

What is SLEAC and how would you use it with regards to land use valuations?

The State Land Evaluation and Advisory Council is comprised of the State Tax Commissioner, the Dean of Agriculture from VA Tech and other state officials. They determine the use value for different types of activities based on commodity sales, soil types and other criteria. They evaluate values for the previous 7 years excluding the lowest and highest, and averaging the 5 median values. This amount is the Olympic average which determines SLEAC values. VA code 58.1 states the Commissioner must consider the SLEAC value but is not required to rely on it exclusively.

How are easement valuations different from land use valuations?

Land use requires adherence to the land use program and its regulations and if there is a change in use, is subject to roll back taxes. Open Space agreements are appurtenant to, and run with land and are defined in “The Agreement”. You may also have a historical or right-of-way easement which may or may not encumber the market value of the property.

Do you support a more frequent or less frequent schedule of real estate assessments than the current schedule, why or why not?

The Commissioner of the Revenue does not have the authority to establish how frequently assessments are made. My job would be to administer any changes to the current quadrennial cycle if requested by the taxpayers and BOS. If we were assessing real estate more frequently, I would suggest biennial reassessments. I believe annual reassessments would be too expensive. When considering the expense of more frequent cycles it would be fiscally responsible to consider bringing the function in-house. If the county decided on that course, you would weigh the additional cost of assessor’s salaries and benefits, tools and equipment, etc. against more accurate assessments. If assessments are brought in-house, I have the knowledge and experience to manage that transition. At 70,000 residents, we would need approval from the General Assembly to move our assessments out to 5 or 6 years as in the case of Augusta and Bedford counties. I would begin by looking at how efficient new construction is added to the real estate rolls and how market sales are verified. Those activities are critical to any assessment.


ERIC MAYBACH

(received May 28, 2019)

What aspects of your formal education and professional experience most prepares you to assume the office of Commissioner of Revenue in Fauquier County?

I have 14 years of work experience in the banking / financial industry. I have valuable experience managing multi-million-dollar portfolios that have met or exceeded targeted growth with delinquency and loss below industry standards. I am currently running a 42-Million-dollar portfolio with Delinquency and loss rates well below industry standards of 9-12% (last month we finished at about 3.5% delinquency and loss). I am tasked managing and developing monthly team, state and regional budgets as well as revenue projections to obtain annual goals. This is done by analyzing historical data, looking for trends and other predictable influences, while broadening and applying my knowledge base. I also have to account for external economic factors in order to meet and exceed these goals. As an example of this, during periods of cyclic downturn when people may be less able to maintain current repayment schedules causing higher delinquency and loss, I successfully anticipated the economic change, proactively making modifications to our budget to stay on track. This is very similar to situations that could arise with the tax base during economic changes and I am prepared for this challenge.

My managerial skills will also help me be successful in the Commissioner role. I have managed multiple teams across 5 states, managing them in high stress environments driving them to meet or exceed their goals. I was tasked with developing and implementing training material processes for onboarding new hires across the entire nation. As a Financial manager I am required to take numerous classes every year regarding banking regulations such as: proper handling of personal data; anti money laundering; bank secrecy act, military lending act, red flag rules (ID theft) and many more most of which are applicable to this office. As a Licensed Mortgage Loan Officer, I must also take Continuing Education Classes to ensure I am up to date on regulations pertaining to the Real Estate and Lending Industry.

What are the Commissioner’s responsibilities regarding land use valuations?

The Commissioner is responsible for implementing the administration of the program based on the current state code and regulations.

How would you handle land use valuations especially with regards to their impact upon agricultural development?

I would continue Fauquier’s current process with the four types of land use programs, unlike the current process in Loudoun County which uses stratification. My reason for supporting Fauquier’s current valuation method is, landowners who are resisting the development dollars and are protecting Fauquier County’s most valuable asset and one that is both esthetically pleasing and ecologically beneficial (land). Fauquier County’s land use properties, especially open use and forested land, are not only great for wildlife but also acts as water filtration, positively affecting the Chesapeake Bay water quality. Another positive aspect of land use valuation is the ease of which it allows us to continue agricultural development and increase the percentage of profitable tax revenue it generates for the county. The exact opposite is true of residential development, which I believe was using $1.17 of services per $1 of tax revenue generated.

What is SLEAC and how would you use it with regards to land use valuations?

SLEAC stands for State Land Evaluation Advisory Committee. SLEAC was created to estimate the use value of land. Currently we subscribe to their valuations/recommendations of our land use values. I would continue to use their valuations as a guide for our taxation. If I feel that the SLEAC is misaligned with my office’s extensive knowledge of Fauquier, I will advocate for Fauquier by communicating our concerns/questions with the designated representatives from the Association of the C.O.R. where they can work with the SLEAC of any discrepancies.

My professional career in the financial sector has helped me developed some key strengths vital to my role as Commissioner of the Revenue these are: Robust Leadership, Open Minded, Resourceful, Strong Communication skills, Detail Oriented, Compliant, Ability to Listen (God gave us 2 ears 1 Mouth use them accordingly) These strengths will allow me to build upon the great foundation this office has built under Ross D’Urso. Continuing to provide the quality and friendly service Fauquier County citizens deserve and expect. My ability to communicate will help build the relationships throughout Fauquier County and the association of Commissioner of the Revenue in Richmond. These partnerships will help me advocate against any unfounded liabilities levied against our county by distant levels of government that contradict our community values.

How are easement valuations different from land use valuations?

The Main difference is easement is in perpetuity. Once it is recorded no further paperwork must be filed. Land use valuations require annual filing and validation to remain in the program.

Do you support a more frequent or less frequent schedule of real estate assessments than the current schedule, why or why not?

I support the current 4-year real estate assessment schedule. However, I can see the benefits and detriments to both the current and more frequent schedules.

Current assessment schedule:

  • Fauquier County has traditionally not had tremendous growth of new construction. which allowed for relatively stable fair market real estate values therefore four-year schedule is adequate. Allowing the County to save taxpayer dollars by only having to hire an outside firm that does these assessments once every 4 years. The most recent assessment was extremely challenging for our citizens and businesses based on percentage of increased valuation. The firm who completed the assessment cost Fauquier county a little over 800k.
    • I would like to see the current analysis of cost savings using a 3rd party firm vs completing this task internally. I feel we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, making sure we are using their tax dollars wisely. With the completed cost analysis, I would be able to consider a more frequent real estate assessment schedule, if the more frequent schedule would save the taxpayers money by performing internal assessments.

More frequent schedule:

  • Recently Fauquier County has had some significant residential growth. If the increased Residential growth, especially that of new construction is maintained, Fauquier County and its taxpayers might benefit from an increased frequency of assessments by helping to evenly disperse the tax burden amongst the taxpayers. Taxpayers would also be able to see the advantage during a down market in the housing industry. The more frequent assessments would help keep fair market value aligned with sales value and thus allowing the taxpayers to keep more of the money they earn in their own pocket.
  • Conversely during a housing boom Taxpayers would see an increase to their assessment every two years which would cause real estate tax burden to increase. However, this increase would help evenly spread the tax burden amongst the taxpayers.
    • Example current schedule: When new construction is complete homes are assessed based on the most recent fair market value not sales price. Say someone purchased a home for 500k yet the latest assessment was completed 2 years prior at the end of an economic downturn, the property’s fair market value was only 400k. The property owner would only be paying the tax burden of a 400k home, not the 500k that could be the more accurate value. What this one example means to our tax revenue or burden, at our current tax rate of .994 that is a tax $994 x 2 (next assessment period) = $1988 lost revenue that must be carried by other citizens.
    • That same example would play out very differently in a 2-year assessment schedule as the new construction fair market value would be in line with similar properties from same year worst case scenario only one year of burden is to be carried by other taxpayers.