Property owners might have sticker shock next year when they see their new tax values, as Mecklenburg County wraps up its first full revaluation since the botched 2011 assessments.
But officials are cautioning that doesn’t necessarily mean property taxes will jump dramatically for everyone in the county. Some property owners might see an increase, but that will depend on how the city and county set tax rates next year.
The 2011 revaluation turned into a debacle for the county, with thousands of angry property owners disputing their valuations. It took years for Mecklenburg to untangle the effects and adjust the values, and the county issued about $100 million worth of refunds. The subsequent drop in property values when Mecklenburg adjusted them also opened up budget gaps for the city and county, as revenue came in lower than expected.
“This is not 2011,” said Mecklenburg County Assessor Ken Joyner. “We’ve got a much better process in place this time.”
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The new valuations reflect Charlotte’s red-hot real estate market. The total value of real estate is up about 51 percent in Mecklenburg County so far, Joyner said. The median home value increase is 38 percent, while the median increase in value of commercial property (which includes apartments) is a whopping 79 percent.
“We’ve seen some major changes in our market,” said Joyner.
“People are going to be really alarmed” when they see the new values, commissioner Pat Cotham predicted. “I just think people might not be tuned in.”
County commissioners said they hope the public will have confidence in the new numbers.
“If you see a higher valuation, that doesn’t mean OK, this is 2011 again,” said commissioner Matthew Ridenhour.
About 35 percent of the county’s property tax base is commercial and 65 percent is residential real estate. When the city and county set their budgets and tax rates in the summer of 2019, commercial properties will likely make up a bigger piece of the tax base. That could mean homeowners get a break as more of the tax burden shifts to commercial properties.
“I would expect there to be a bigger share of the percentage that would be commercial after the revaluation,” said Joyner. “The commercial would have a higher burden.”
The county will send notices with new home values in mid-January, Joyner said. Property owners will have the chance to appeal their new assessments before tax bills go out in July 2019. Unlike in previous years, owners will be able to appeal online.
But the higher property values don’t automatically mean higher property taxes for homeowners. The city and the county can set “revenue neutral” tax rates after a revaluation, meaning they aim to collect the same total amount of revenue.
So, if your home’s value was formerly assessed at $200,000 and it’s now $400,000, that doesn’t mean property taxes will simply double. However, officials are warning that some homeowners, particularly those with very steep increases in assessed value, could see higher tax bills next year.
And homeowners are already going to see higher property tax bills regardless of the revaluation. Both the city and county approved budgets this year with property tax increases, which will go to fund expanded pre-kindergarten, police raises and raises for some teachers and school staff. The owner of a $250,000 home will pay $44 more a year in total, with $25 going to the city and $19 going to the county.
The revaluation is one of the biggest undertakings Mecklenburg County is responsible for, assigning new values to all 365,000 properties in the county. Joyner said assessors have examined about 68 percent of properties in the county.
Wednesday’s presentation of the 600-page proposed schedule of values and rules by Joyner is a legally required step in the revaluation process. Citizens can give feedback on the technical document at a Sept. 5 hearing before the county commissioners.
More information on the revaluation process is available online at www.meckreval.com.