1. Meetings are public.
All meetings of the Board of Equalization (BoE) are public, and all are invited to attend. The decisions of the BoE are summarized in Minutes that are open to the appellants, other participants, and to the public at large.
The BoE normally meets during business hours but provisions can be made for an evening meeting if necessary.
The memoranda to the BoE from the Department of Real Estate Assessment (the Department, hereafter) regarding the income and expenses of income-producing properties are public only to the extent that they are discussed orally at BoE meetings. The memoranda themselves are not part of the public record, according to Virginia law.
2. Procedures during hearings.
Under most circumstances hearings will last 20 to 30 minutes, with the appellant making the first presentation of no more than eight minutes, and then the Department making the second one, also not to exceed eight minutes. Neither of the opposing parties will interrupt the other during these opening statements, but BoE members may (but usually do not) ask questions.
Following the opening arguments BoE members will ask questions of both sides, and discuss the case among themselves and with the other participants. The Department will conclude with a one-minute summary, followed by the appellant, also with a minute summary.
After the summaries, the floor will be closed to all but BoE members, who may, however, ask questions of the other participants. If, following a reply by one of the participants, the other side wants to make a brief reply as well, that is acceptable. The BoE, unless it votes to postpone a decision, will then decide the case before it. Participants will not be recognized when a decision motion is before the BoE. In keeping with Arlington County code, affirmative votes of at least three members will be needed — no matter how many members are present — to make a decision.
Should unusual circumstances occur, such as an unusually complex case, or a series of nearly identical cases, the BoE may adjust its schedule accordingly. In cases brought by the Department, or by the BoE itself, the sequence of speakers will be reversed, with the Department making the first opening statement and the last closing summary.
3. Order of appearances
Typically, cases will be heard in the schedule order beginning at 9:00 AM. Should the Board find itself with no appellant for a case, but an appellant ready to present a subsequent case, it can adjust the order. Once such a case has begun, the Board will conclude that case, even though the first appellant has appeared in the meantime.
4. Evidence presented at BoE hearings.
Neither party (i.e. the appellant nor the Department) shall present new written and graphic evidence at the hearing. An exception will be made for photographs of the property in question, if they had been previously submitted, but did not reproduce in-sufficient detail to accurately represent the property. Similarly, blow-ups of maps or site-plans are acceptable if they are enlargements of previously submitted material. A participant may use a drawing board, or easel or similar tool, to emphasize particular facts, but neither new material, nor material organized differently than in the written submission is allowed. The foregoing does not preclude a BoE member filing a written request with one or both parties before the hearing, seeking additional information or clarification of something in the submission with the response to be discussed only at the hearing. Copies of such a request will be made available to the appellant, the Department, and the other members of the BoE.
5. Non-appearances of appellants.
In the event of an unexpected non-appearance of an appellant, the BoE will hear the case based on the material and the personnel before it. The appellant will, like all other appellants, be informed, in writing, of the BoE’s decision.
6. Emergency postponements of cases.
The Board will exercise the normal discretion of such bodies in the cases of emergency-caused postponements.
7. Non-Emergency postponements of cases.
The BoE will make every effort to schedule cases at the taxpayer’s convenience. Once a hearing has been scheduled, an owner or a tax agent may request to postpone their hearing. Such request needs to be made in writing, at the latest, 10 days prior to the scheduled hearing to the Board’s secretary. Request may be sent via fax, email or mail. The board will determine if the case will be postponed. Once the owner or tax agent has obtained one postponement, no others will be granted during the course of the calendar year.
No withdrawals of cases will be allowed in the following cases:
A. Where the Department or the BoE, rather than the owner have called the case.
B. Where the Department has recommended an increase in the assessment.
In other instances the owner, after receiving a scheduling letter, may petition the Board, by letter, to withdraw a case at least three business days prior to the hearing date. Withdrawal will be granted at the Board’s discretion. The appellant seeking to withdraw a case should be prepared to appear on schedule, unless notified otherwise.
In cases in which the BoE disagrees with the Department, the minutes will show the Board’s rationale for its decision in a sentence or two. At the end of the hearing on the case in question, the Board will agree on such a rationale. The member making the motion disagreeing with the Department will offer the rationale.
The rationale need not be explicated prior to the vote (as there is no need to work out a rationale for a motion that fails), and the Board is free to seek the advice of participants on the wording of the rationale. In cases where the BoE accepts the judgement of the Department, the Department’s rationale has been spelled out in the memorandum to the Board.
10. Third Party/citizen remarks at hearings.
A (non-participant) third party may address the Board for up to two minutes at a time reserved for public comments. The time for public comments will not exceed 10 minutes. To address the board, you must submit a request to
the board secretary at least 48 hours prior to the hearing.
11. Tape Recordings
A party wishing to utilize an electronic recording device or a court stenographic reporter must inform the Board in writing at least 24 hours in advance that they are planning to do so. Such recording shall be executed in a non- disruptive manner. Any recordings of hearings are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Questions concerning BoE rules and procedures may be addressed to the Board Secretary at (703) 228-7709.