FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
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.