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
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.