Thousands of Petersburg properties incorrectly billed for real estate tax

City officials in Petersburg are admitting a major mix-up on real estate taxes.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 8:20 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - City officials in Petersburg are admitting a major mix-up on real estate taxes. The city says thousands of properties were underbilled, potentially meaning thousands of residents could end up paying more in the near future.

The city says it was made aware of the mistake a couple of weeks ago but first made the error public during its city council meeting Tuesday.

The current real estate tax rate is about $1.27 per $100, but city manager March Altman says that tax rate was incorrectly applied to last year’s property values which were generally lower.

According to the city, roughly 65% of Petersburg properties have increased in value since last year.

Altman says if a resident received a real estate reassessment notice back in January that was higher than their previous property value assessment, then there’s a good chance you were underbilled in your most recent bill due at the end of the month.

“This is our mistake, completely; we take responsibility for that,” Altman said. “We’re in the neighborhood of about 11,000 properties that might be affected and therefore 11,000 bills.”

Petersburg resident Roslyn Williams says she’s appalled because she’ll likely have to pay more than the dollar amount shown on her most recent real estate tax bill.

“They should have gotten that correct from the beginning,” Williams said. “I think they should definitely eat that and chew on it.”

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

“We’re working on a solution that will more than likely be a supplemental billing that will go out that will make up that differential in that payment. We will roll that out, and when we do roll that supplemental billing out, we will give citizens plenty of time to make that additional payment.” Altman said. “First and foremost, pay the taxes on the bill that was sent that was due at the end of the month.”

But residents like Williams say she’ll reluctantly pay more, but she won’t be happy about it.

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

The city has not yet determined when those additional bills will go out. It’s also still investigating how this mistake was made in the first place.