Sunrise over V.A. Capitol.
VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ADVISORY COUNCIL
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA


AO-2-00

September 29, 2000

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence, unless otherwise indicated.

Mr. Stewart Fleming
Newport News, VA

Dear Mr. Fleming:

You have asked whether it was the intention of the Legislature when they created VA Code 58.1-3331 and 3332 that all property appraisal cards containing the calculations and methodology used in arriving at each individual assessed property value MUST be maintained by ANY city, town or county government and are these property appraisal cards or sheets containing the calculations and methodology used in arriving at each individual assessed property value to be immediately available for inspection or copying by ANY citizen of the commonwealth during the normal office hours each and every day their custodians' office was open?

First, let me clarify that your inquiry about the legislative intent of the General Assembly in enacting sections 58.1-3331 and 58.1-3332 cannot be answered by this office because our purview is limited by statute to questions concerning the Freedom of Information Act. As you may know, legislative history is not kept in Virginia. However, our librarian, Cheryl Jackson, may be able to check the drafting folder when those sections were enacted to determine if they contain any information which would provide some clue of legislative intent.

As to the second part of your question, I believe that 58.1-3331 and 58.1-3332 are clear on their face that property appraisal cards or sheets, including the calculations and methodology used in determining the assessed value of the property are open to public inspection.

58.1-3331 provides that " All property appraisal cards or sheets within the custody of a county, city or town assessing officer, EXCEPT those cards or sheets containing information made confidential by 58.1-3, shall be open for inspection....... by any taxpayer, or his duly authorized representative, desiring to review such cards or sheets. Subsection C of that section authorizes the assessing officer to set a limited period, not less than four hours per day, within normal office hours when these records shall be made available for inspection and copying. 58.1-3332 requires an assessing officer who maintains the property appraisal cards or sheets to include on such cards or sheets, the appraised value of the property and improvements, if any, and the calculations and methodology used in determining the assessed value of such property and improvements.

Thank you for contacting this office and your patience in allowing time for the Freedom of Information Advisory Council to get organized before responding to your question.

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