Revaluation expected to result in flat or lower tax revenue
Rowan County manager
By Josh Bergeron
With only four applications received so far, Rowan County is looking for at least 20 more board members as it prepares to take tax appeals in a revaluation year that’s expected to result in no change or a small decrease in overall property values.
Last month the county approved a resolution to create a Board of Equalization and Review, which would review any property value appeals. The board’s creation coincides with a revaluation of property values that occurs every four years.
Property taxes based on those values are a revenue source in the county’s budget. Unless property tax rates are increased, most property owners won’t see a significant changes in the amount of taxes due, according to County Manager Aaron Church.
Church said the initial budget presented to commissioners would include a revenue-neutral tax rate, which means the county would generate the same overall amount of property tax as the prior year.
Church’s recommendation to balance the budget, however, could include an increase in the property tax rate. The final authority to approve an increase would lie with county commissioners, Church said.
And, with current projections, an increase in property tax could be possible, according to County Assessor Kelvin Byrd’s projections.
“There’s not really a whole lot of movement in any direction,” Byrd said. “It’s fairly flat. When we look at the overall tax base, depending on the number of appeals, we’re looking at a 1- to 2-percent drop.”
Byrd said he hasn’t noticed any particular area of Rowan with rapidly increasing property values.
The last revaluation occurred in 2011. Byrd said this year’s revaluation would evaluate all of Rowan’s 78,000 parcels of land as of Jan. 1.
He said the actual property values will be sent out to owners within the next two weeks. After that, owners have the opportunity to appeal the value. The Board of Equalization and Review hears those appeals and issues rulings.
This year the board will be paid $60 per working session. Byrd said the county is planning for 100 sessions, with each one being about three to four hours long. Depending on the number of appeals, all of the sessions may not be needed he said.
Five members comprise the board, with a number of alternates needed. When the commissioners in January discussed the board as part of a resolution, Byrd said 20 to 25 applications would be ideal to ensure a proper number of alternates.
The average number of appeals is about 10 percent of the total property in a county, Church said. Normally property owners appeal to the board for a lower value, Byrd said.
Depending on the tax rate commissioners approve, a lower value on a piece of property may not mean lower taxes. The tax bill could remain about the same. Or it could go up.
When explaining revaluation, Church said the property tax rate could increase in order to bring in the same amount of revenue — a revenue-neutral rate.
For example, Church said a $150,000 house, after a successful appeal, could be valued at $145,000. The amount of taxes due could actually be identical to a $150,000 house in order for Rowan to generate the same property tax revenue. Anything more than a revenue-neutral amount would require an even greater property tax payment.
With budget season just getting underway, Church said during last week’s commissioners retreat that a property tax rate hike could be needed for even marginal increases in the county’s budget.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246
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