Board of Review Rules & Procedures for Hearings
1. Powers of the Board
The Board of Review (“Board”) has the authority to revise, correct, and amend any and all assessments of real estate made by the assessment department. The Board is charged with consideration of all applications filed, but also has the duty to increase or decrease assessments, whether or not an application has been filed, if in its judgment, adjustment is necessary to equalize and accomplish the end that the burden of taxation shall rest equally upon all citizens of such county or city.
2. Hearings are Public Meetings
The Board is a public body. All meetings, including hearings, are generally open to the public, and the public is invited to attend. Hearings are conducted in the months of May and/or June, and are generally conducted during the City’s normal regular business hours. Hearing notices will be published in the local newspaper and on the City’s website at www.hampton.gov/assessor at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing date. Decisions of the Board are summarized in minutes that are available to the appellants, other participants, and the public at large.
While the public is invited to attend, Board hearings are not a forum for public hearings or public comment; and an appellant may only address the Board during that time in which the Board is hearing that appellant’s case.
3. Income and Expense Information
The Board may conduct closed sessions to hear information related to a property owner’s income and expense data. The Assessor and the Board are precluded by statute from any public disclosure of the income and expense or other proprietary information (“Confidential Information”), and hold closed session proceedings to hear and discuss that information. If an appellant plans to discuss any Confidential Information before the Board, prior to the discussion of any Confidential Information, the appellant should advise the Board, and request that the Board enter into a closed session to hear that Confidential Information. It is solely at the Board’s discretion whether and when to grant that request. The Assessor may also make such a request of the Board.
During a closed session, the public and any other parties not deemed necessary to the Board will be asked to leave the meeting room. Minutes are not maintained for closed sessions. No voting occurs during closed sessions. Only Confidential Information can be discussed in Closed Session. All other discussions must occur in public session.
4. Hearing Procedures
The Board is familiar with each case before it is heard because the Board receives a full copy of each appeal package prior to the hearings. Multiple hearings are scheduled for each day; but specific times are not scheduled for each individual hearing because it is not possible to know in advance how long each hearing will last. In addition, the Board may change the order of hearings, such as if an appellant is expected to appear but is not yet present, if a single representative is present for multiple cases, or if there is a series of nearly identical matters.
Under most circumstances, hearings may last 20 to 30 minutes, with the appellant (the property owner) making the first presentation for approximately 10 minutes, with the Assessor making the second one also for approximately 10 minutes. Following those presentations, the Board may ask questions of either side, and may also give the Assessor and the appellant each an opportunity to make a final summary statement. The Board will then deliberate for as long as it desires.
The Board Chairman is in charge of the meeting. The appellant and the Assessor should address only the Board throughout the hearing, and respond only to questions of the Board. A hearing is not a forum for either party to ask questions directly of the other, or for a debate between the appellant and the Assessor.
The Board conducts an administrative hearing process, not a court room process. By statute, the Assessor’s assessment has a presumption of correctness. The burden is on the property owner to rebut that presumption by a preponderance of the evidence; and that burden cannot be shifted.
5. Evidence Presented at Hearings
Neither the Assessor nor the appellant shall present any new written or graphic evidence at a hearing. The evidence heard by the Board at a hearing is limited to the documents submitted by the applicant in a timely filed application, and the Assessor’s file related to the property appealed; and analysis of the information submitted with an application. The foregoing does not preclude a Board member from, in advance of a hearing, (i) inspecting a property; or (ii) issuing (through the Board’s Secretary) a written request to a party seeking additional information or clarification on information submitted with an application. When this occurs, the responding party should provide 6 copies of the response so that the responses to any such written request can be made available to the Board and the other party prior to the hearing date on the matter.
6. Non-Appearance by Appellant
Appellants are not required to appear in order for the Board to decide on a case. In the event of the non-appearance of an appellant when a hearing is called, the Board may proceed with the matter. If that occurs, the Board may request that the Assessor make a presentation, and will consider the information submitted in the application in making its decision. All appellants (whether present or not) are informed, in writing, of the Board’s decision.
7. Hearings are Conducted In-Person; Appearance of Agent
Hearings are conducted in person. Electronic participation is not permitted unless written request is made to the Board, and the Board, in its sole discretion, on a case-by-case basis, grants an exception and permits electronic participation.
If a property owner desires an agent to appear on its behalf, the property owner must have filed with the Board a valid power of attorney or agent authorization prior to the hearing; and any authorized agent must state on the record his or her relationship to the property owner before proceeding before the Board.
8. Hearing Schedules
The Board’s Secretary will schedule all cases and send notification to each applicant. Once a hearing is scheduled an appellant may request to have its hearing moved to another date and time, within the Board’s scheduled hearing dates. Such a request must be made in writing (via mail or email) to the Board Secretary no later than 10 days prior to the originally scheduled hearing date. The Board may agree to make such an accommodation if time is available on a date when other hearings are scheduled.
9. Application Withdrawals
Any party that intends to withdraw an application must notify the Board’s Secretary of such in writing prior to the scheduled hearing date. Such notices may be sent via regular USPS first class mail, fax, email, or hand-delivered to:
Board of Review
c/o Assessor of Real Estate
1 Franklin Street, Suite 602
Hampton, VA 23669
Fax: (757) 728-3510
10. Board Decisions
All decisions of the Board shall be made only by the majority vote of all those members present and voting. The Board may decide to defer (or postpone) a matter, or decide a case based on the evidence presented.
When making a motion, a Board member will include in that motions statements explaining (i) that the Assessor’s value is affirmed (the property owner did not provide sufficient evidence to support a change based on the preponderance of the evidence); or (ii) the value is being adjusted, and the reason for that adjustment. When making motion regarding a change in value, the Board will also identify how the change should be applied (i.e. to improvements only; pro-rate between land and improvements; or to land only.)