CHARLOTTE – As Mecklenburg County Assessor Ken Joyner was briefing county commissioners on the 2019 revaluation during the board’s annual retreat Jan. 23 to 25, residents were learning just how much the value of the property has changed in eight years.
Commissioner Trevor Fuller pulled out his phone during the presentation to check his new assessment. Like many residents, he experienced sticker shock.
“I don’t want to stay it startled me, but it startled me,” Fuller said.
Joyner said residential values increased by an average of 43 percent while commercial values saw an average increase of 77 percent. The county has 371,500 parcels.
But that doesn’t mean owners will see their taxes increase by that much. Tax rates are set during budget talks by the county and by local towns and cities in the Mecklenburg County. New tax bills will be mailed in July after those budgets are set.
The county and local municipalities could set a revenue-neutral tax rate that would raise the same amount of money or set a rate to raise more revenue. Regardless, some property owners whose values increased significantly will likely see a tax increase. Some areas, especially in and around Uptown saw their values increase 100 percent or more.
“If we set a true revenue-neutral rate, then for a lot of the areas, they probably won’t see a huge increase or likely not an increase at all,” county economist Brandon Simmons said. “It is going to depend on the property more than anything else.”
Fuller said property owners should not assume they will see a massive tax increase come summer.
“The valuation piece is just one part of the whole question of what a person’s property taxes will be it,” Fuller said. “There is a great deal of anxiety about this because people do think that just because your property value has gone up, that your taxes are going to go up a similar proportion. I suspect that our tax rate is going to go down. Don’t know by how much but that is what the conversation is going to be. I expect that it will go down. We don’t know the answer yet for individual property owners of what effect this valuation is really going to be.”
Anna Granger, a Realtor with 1st First Choice Properties in Mint Hill, said the revaluation is a good thing for homeowners who may be looking to sell. The revaluation was a hot topic at Granger’s Beer with a Broker event Jan. 24 at Pour 64 in Mint Hill.
“If our tax burden doesn’t increase a whole lot, it (valuation) is a good thing, especially if you want to sell,” Granger said. “This is positive confirmation of what I already knew is that we have a really strong real estate market. It’s a seller’s market. Our sellers are getting 97, 98 percent of what they are asking. I expect another strong market this year.”
Joyner told the board that many residents went to www.meckreval.com to check their new values instead of waiting for them to arrive by mail.
“We went live with the values this morning (Jan. 24) and the last time I saw any of the numbers, we had had by lunch about 17,000 individual visits to it,” Joyner said. “It has been a popular website. All of the major neighborhoods by the revenue process were completed along with all of the minor neighborhoods.’’
Simmons, who addressed the board before Joyner and covered a wide range of economic topics, including the revaluation, was asked by Fuller how people would respond if there was a tax increase. Simmons doesn’t believe the revaluation, even if it includes a tax increase, would prompt residents to move outside the county because of the costs associated with buying a new house or impact decisions of people thinking about moving into the county.
“They will adjust their finances around it,” Simmons said. “The average person will be able to take any increase, whatever small increase that we are seeing from the reval. People coming down here to look for a job are going to compare tax rates. They are going to factor that in with that drive time and what they will spend on fuel. How long they are willing to sit in traffic is going to affect what they do.”
Property owners have 30 days to request an informal review of their assessed value to the assessor’s office. Joyner said “it will be all hands on deck” and that employees in the office can’t take vacation until March. The appeal forms can be downloaded from the revaluation website. Property owners can also file a formal appeal directly to Board of Equalization and Review by May 20.
“Our cutoff date to file a formal appeal is a little less than four months away but we want to get that information as soon as possible so we have enough time,” Joyner said. “If there is an issue in a neighborhood, we will probably hear about it from multiple people.”
But county officials are hoping that sticker shock will be a thing of the past. The next revaluation is set for 2023 and the goal is to do the process every two years.
“We are taking a look at what it would take to shorten that cycle to a two year,” Joyner said. “It will take additional staff. It will take additional resources, so we have to make a determination to what those benefits would be to shorten further from four.”
Commissioner offers outreach
Mecklenburg Commissioner Susan Harden will host two sessions in south Charlotte to help residents understand and get resources regarding the tax revaluation. Sessions are 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 2 at the South County Regional Library and 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 16 at Morrison Regional Library.