Cabarrus County, Charlotte Motor Speedway at odds over tax value

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 8:22 am

CONCORD, N.C. – Cabarrus County and Charlotte Motor Speedway are more than $200 million apart in their assessments of the speedway’s tax value, and the dispute could end up before the N.C. Property Tax Commission in Raleigh.

The Cabarrus Board of Equalization and Review will hold a hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday on the 2008 and 2009 tax assessments for Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motor Sports Inc.

At the county’s current property tax of 70 cents per $100 in valuation, a $200 million difference would equal about $1.4 million in additional revenue for Cabarrus County.

Track officials say the speedway’s 2008 tax value should be $78 million, while Cabarrus County originally placed the value at $178 million, according to Cabarrus County Tax Administrator Brent Weisner. He presented the figures to Cabarrus County Commissioners during their planning retreat Saturday.

The discrepancy is even larger for 2009, the first year the zMax Dragway figures into the appraisals. Cabarrus County has the 2009 value at nearly $309.6 million, while the speedway placed the value at $108.2 million.

The appeal has been delayed because of disagreements over documents to be provided to the county by the speedway, Weisner said in an interview Tuesday. The speedway provided some documents but said others requested were irrelevant.

The N.C. Property Tax Commission ruled in the county’s favor on the documents request, and CMS officials have since provided all the information.

The speedway is represented by Raleigh attorney R. Bruce Thompson II of Parker Poe. He was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

The 2008 appeal concerns just the 945-acre site of Charlotte Motor Speedway but not the ZMax Dragway, which was built in 2008, or the nearby planned unit development the speedway acquired later.

Both sides commissioned independent appraisals of the property for the 2008 appeal. Weisner said the speedway’s appraisal came in at $78 million, while the county’s was $277 million.

Both were completed by Member of Appraisal Institute commercial appraisers from Charlotte.

After the appraisal, Cabarrus County is now seeking a value of $244.1 million for 2008.

“They have an opinion. We have an opinion. And now the question is who will (the board of equalization and review) agree with,” Weisner said.

The ZMax Dragway comes into play for the 2009 appeal. It was widely reported at the time of the opening that it cost $60 million to build and speedway officials have not disputed that figure.

Weisner said documents provided by speedway officials place the cost of the ZMax at approximately $57.2 million.

“They are saying they paid more to build it than what it’s worth because of the rush to complete it on time,” Weisner said.

The CMS wants a value of $30 million attached to the dragway, which is what they say is the fair market value, Weisner said.

Cabarrus County has the 2009 value at nearly $309.6 million, while the speedway placed the value at $108.2 million.

The speedway properties are so specialized that they can’t be appraised by the fair market sales approach, Weisner said. “There are no speedways like Charlotte Motor Speedway that have sold to use for a comparable.”

The speedway isn’t the only business appealing the county’s valuation.

Cabarrus County valued the Corning facilities in Midland at $172.2 million. Corning’s appeal is asking for a value of $30 million.

“That’s what they say it would sell for,” Weisner said. “The technology has changed for fiber optic production, and they say they wouldn’t build the same kind of facility if they were doing it today. There is some truth to that.”

The county classified both CMS and Corning as “special purpose” properties and used replacement cost minus any appropriate depreciation as the method to determine the value, Weisner said.

Other sports complexes, such as football stadiums, aren’t comparable. Weisner said they are built to a much higher standard and are much more expensive than a racetrack.

The 2010-2012 values for CMS might be adjusted depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s hearings. The 2012 value has already decreased to $259.9 million after the full countywide revaluation was completed.

Properties across Cabarrus County decreased in value by more than 13 percent on average because of the decline in the real estate market during the recession.

The board of equalization and review expects to hear the Corning appeal for 2012 later this month.

Cabarrus County has 16 other appeals pending with the N.C. Property Tax Commission for 2012 property valuations. According to the county, the total assessed value in those cases is nearly $6.7 million.

The largest is Carolina Tractor & Equipment Company at Concord Regional Airport. The county’s value is nearly $3.7 million.

The appeals include seven properties belonging to Donald Lee Newton Sr., who is in the rental home business. Total assessed value of those properties is $310,810.

The other pending state appeals are: SFC Food Services Inc., $869,790; Alan Day Overcash, $694,670; Louis M. Helms Jr., $320,240; Brian Alexander, $291,630; Floyd Schwartz, $287,940; Overcash Real Estate LLC (two properties), $192,970; and John Marshall Licari, $21,270.

Weisner told commissioners he expects state appeals for 2012 for both Charlotte Motor Speedway and Corning.

Typically it might take a year or two for appeals to be heard by the property tax commission, but Weisner said he expects a fast track for the 2008 and 2009 speedway appeals, if they get that far. He hopes the commission would hear the cases by July.

Contact Mark Plemmons at 704-789-9140.