Chesterfield property tax increase bites Myrna's Boots 'N' Bits: 'Where am I going to get the money?'

Posted at 12:14 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 12:32:51-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – Myrna Dyke, owner of the western apparel store Myrna's Boots 'N' Bits, cherishes the time she spends with customers, from finding them the perfect cowboy hat, belt, jeans, and more to "get them all dressed up and looking really good."

“I had one customer come in. He was very preppy, and he said, ‘I got a new girlfriend, and she likes western,'" Dyke recalled. “He wrote me a letter. It’s posted up there. 'Thank you for dressing me so good. It was a hit!' That’s what it is. That’s the good part."

It's those interactions that Dyke said keeps her coming back to work every day. She's owned the business for more than 50 years and has been located in her current Chesterfield County building just off Midlothian Turnpike for more than 20 years.

But her latest real estate assessment has caused her some trouble.

The county's assessment of her building jumped from $362,000 last year to $1.7 million this year.

“They’re crazy. That’s all I could think. How can that happen? How can that be? That’s not realistic," Dyke said. "We haven't done any more repairs-- just regular maintenance. We haven't built anything. We haven't renovated."

Myrna's Boots and Bits
Myrna Dyke, owner of the western apparel store Myrna's Boots 'N' Bits

Her land market value remained the same as the previous year.

Dyke's total assessed value of $2.7 million is an increase of 97% from 2024. It dropped by 3% in 2022 and by 1% in 2023.

It's the highest assessment she's ever received by a longshot since 2003. Historically, her total assessment has remained around $1.4 million.

So, Dyke will now have to pay basically double in taxes – about $26,000.

She said she contacted the county to ask why her assessment was so high.

“What did they say?” reporter Tyler Layne asked.

“You don’t have fly ash, and the rest of the businesses in here do have fly ash," Dyke said. “How come I've been here 20 years, and I didn't have fly ash. And now all of a sudden, I don't have fly ash, and that's the problem?”

Dyke said fly ash was used in the foundation of some of the nearby buildings and can have negative impacts.

"When it rains, fly ash soaks it up and it begins to swell, and so the floors begin to move," Dyke said.

She filed an appeal and told the county she researched all her neighbors' assessments and found hers was "disproportionately higher."

Myrna's Boots and Bits

Chesterfield denied her appeal.

Dyke said she keeps her first bill, which stated she owed more than $12,000 by June, at the checkout counter.

“Customers come up with their purchases-- boots $200. And I say, 'Get your tax bill?' And then we get started. And I say, 'Mine doubled, so therefore, I have to charge you $400 for your boots.' And they look at me like, oh, God. They say, 'We can't afford that.' I say, 'I know you can’t, but I just explained to you that I have to pay double.' Where am I going to get the money from?” Dyke said.

The business owner said she has no choice but to raise prices to cover the increased taxes.

She said a realtor has already approached her offering to buy the building and lease it back to her, but she refuses to sell her building or leave.

"I think they want me out of here," Dyke said. “I pay my fair share. I pay sales tax, pay on my home and other stuff. Why are they doing that?”

Myrna's Boots and Bits

Chesterfield County spokesperson J. Elias O'Neal provided the following statement in response to CBS 6's request for comment:

“Though the owner of this property appealed their assessment, repeated attempts by Department of Real Estate Assessments staff to contact the owner by phone and email to discuss the appeal and inquire about any additional information the owner may have went unanswered. The appraiser had no choice but to review the information the owner originally provided with their appeal and determined that the provided information was not reliable comparative data for other properties. Subsequently, the property’s 2024 assessment was determined to be fair and equitable.”

Watch Tyler Layne's reporting on CBS 6 and Have something for Tyler to investigate? Email him.

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