Leading from the Left

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Valuing Orange County

I've received a number of emails from citizens concerned about the revaluation of property that is currently underway in Orange County. Many worry that the revals will lead to significant jump in the taxes they'll pay this year. The level of discomfort seems to be higher this year than in years past due to the current economic downtown and the stresses the recession is placing on our citizens.  It's not hard to understand why; we're all worried about the economy and what the future holds.

Orange County, like all counties in North Carolina, periodically revalue property. This is done to keep up with changes in values so properties can be taxed appropriately. It's standard operating procedure and a necessary responsibility of local government.

Here's how we can help taxpayers deal with the new property values:

The County Commissioners, as well as town leaders, should lower property tax rates this year to reflect the increased values.   What local governments have done in the past, and I certainly support it, is to lower the tax overall tax rate to a level that would bring in the same amount of money as would be raised under last year's property tax values.  

This would mean that the average tax payer would pay the same property tax they paid last year.  In other words, they new rate might be, say, 87 cents instead of our current 99 cents.  But based on the new valuations you'd pay, on average, the same amount in property taxes as you paid last year.  Now, I need to be completely clear.  On average tax-payers would pay the same amount as last year.  But some properties rose in value more than others.  So, some tax payers might pay a little bit more and some a bit less.   

The BoCC hasn't made a decision yet, but I fully expect us to lower the tax rate this year to reflect increased values.  It's the only fair thing to do.