CHARLOTTE – County leaders believe some homeowners will be in for a shock when they see how much property values have risen following the 2019 revaluation.
Tax Assessor Ken Joyner’s staff has compiled updated valuations for 68 percent of the county’s 364,610 parcels. So far, the county has seen a 38 percent median increase for residential property and 79 percent median increase for commercial property since the last revaluation in 2011. The median home value is $295,666, up from about $190,000 in 2011.
Revaluations are done to ensure properties are taxed fairly to reflect their market value, but the process comes at a time when city and county leaders are trying to make housing more affordable.
Bill James and Matthew Ridenhour, who represent southern Mecklenburg on the county commission, are trying to encourage their colleagues to adjust the tax rate so that property taxes don’t become impossible to pay.
During the Aug. 8 commission meeting, James asked staff to compute the tax rate necessary for the average homeowner to avoid a tax increase. After the meeting, he tweeted that not setting a revenue neutral tax rate will cripple working families.
“The one concern I have is that there is going to be some surprise among a number of people who live in moderately priced homes right now,” Commissioner Jim Puckett said. “They are going to find the land of their moderately priced home is outrageously more valuable than it ever had been before.”
People in Puckett’s district of north Mecklenburg experienced a similar phenomenon after the last revaluation in 2011. He said older homes saw huge increases in value given their proximity to Lake Norman.
Turns out, that revaluation was botched, prompting the state to pass legislation in 2013 to refund homeowners.
Joyner, who became tax assessor after 2011, kicked off the 2019 revaluation process on Aug. 8 by explaining the schedule of values to commissioners. The 600-page document guides the county on performing valuations.
“It doesn’t have individual property values, neighborhood values or anything like that,” Joyner explained. “It’s just our manual to go about doing the process.”
Commissioners will hold a public hearing for the community to share comments about the schedule of values (available at www.meckreval.com) on Sept. 5. The county is expected to approve it Sept. 18.
Property owners will likely see valuation notices in mid-January. Informal appeals begin shortly after, followed by a formal appeals process in May. Tax bills reflecting the new valuation will be mailed in July.
The tax assessors office has held 91 community engagement sessions, including 13 in Ridenhour’s District 5 and nine in James’ District 6. Seven of those in Ridenhour’s district were specifically designed for neighborhoods.
Joyner expects to have more than 100 sessions throughout the process.
Ridenhour hopes the county’s transparency and community engagement helps regain confidence in its revaluation process.
“If you see a higher valuation, it doesn’t mean this is 2011 all over again,” Ridenhour said. “We are predictng that there will be signifiicantly increased values.”
Commissioner Pat Cotham is worried about the revaluation’s implications on renters. She believes the costs associated with increased property values will be passed on to those renting apartments or homes.
Commissioner Trevor Fuller brought the discussion back to affordable housing, urging colleagues not to solely consider the tax rate. He said the reval provides commissioners an opportunity to determine what type of investments they can make to allow people to live here. He suggests they find a balance with the tax rate once they determine the actual tax burden.
“We are facing a situation where we are pricing people out of Mecklenburg County,” Fuller said. “It seems to me that’s an issue we really need to spend a lot of time on.”