The Lesson of Unintended Consequences – Mecklenburg County’s Revaluation


Bill Russell, Sr. and Jill tending the cows on the farm

As many of you may know, my family has a farm in Rock Hill, SC where we still raise livestock and horses where they graze in the green pasture and each spring we plant a vegetable garden.  Year after year, generation after generation, we have continued that tradition since our family first settled there in the 1760’s.

Last year, my dad brought to my attention a blight which we seemed to have on our tomato plants.  We also had a pitiful, if not nonexistent, harvest of corn, beans, cantaloupes, and other assortment of goodies.     I wrote it off to bad weather – lack of rain – and perhaps some type of fungus. However, imagine my surprise when dad said again this year our plants are showing signs of disease as the leaves are withering up already.  Last year  the plants did not die – they simply did not yield and those that did looked malformed.

Dad took the soil down to the local Clemson Extension Agricultural office where they determined the manure that dad used to fertilize the soil from our livestock had a concentration of pesticide which came from the hay ingested by the cows and horses.  The pesticide used to kill the yellow weed had no harmful effects to the grass or to the livestock.  However, while not killing the plant outright, it had devastating effects on the growth and maturation of the plants and its produce.

Dad planting this year’s tomatoes

So what does manure and County Government have to do with each other?  Many of our businesses are just now aware that the revaluation, which property owners have been concerned about for months, are being passed on to many tenants in the form of CAM (Common Area Maintenance Charges) which typically are composed of insurance, janitorial, landscaping, and property taxes to name just a few.

Many of our smaller businesses including retail and key man offices are unprepared for the hefty hikes in CAM charges and are now having to figure these increases into the bottom line.  While all of our businesses and residents in Mecklenburg County have a fiduciary responsibility to pay taxes for municipal and county services including education, health and human services, transportation, and safety – these taxes should be fair and justifiable.

Data collected by the chamber of commerce indicates examples where the county’s assessment and independent evaluations are significantly different.  While the county government may be operating in compliance with rules, procedures, and an approved process which govern evaluations of residential and commercial properties, the system itself many argue is flawed and needs to be evaluated by an outside and independent review or audit.

In essence, commercial property owners and tenants are facing hardships which threaten their economic viability forcing some to make cuts in employment or in some cases close or move the business – an unintended consequence of the county’s actions.

The Chamber of Commerce will be encouraging our county officials to examine faults within the present system and correct them expeditiously.  If legislation is required in Raleigh that creates a fairer and equitable process, we will support that as well.

The good news for our family’s garden is that recognizing the problem and correcting it with nutrients we can neutralize the toxins, repair the damage to the soil and through hard work nurture a healthy crop in the future.

The lesson dad and I learned was we need to be careful just how much manure to use and be more careful what’s in it.  It’s a lesson we could all learn from whether a garden or a board room.