MATTHEWS – Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor Ken Joyner told residents the revaluation of property in the county doesn’t necessarily mean they are in for a large property tax increase come summer.
The county recently completed its first revaluation since 2011 and property values – both residential and commercial – have increased by 54 percent on average. Residential values increased an average of 43 percent, but some residents saw their values increase by 100 percent or more.
Joyner addressed more than two dozen residents at a listening session Feb. 28 at the Sportsplex at Matthews. The assessor’s office has conducted more than 150 other informational sessions across the county.
Several residents questioned the new valuation. Others asked about a mailer they received, saying they are facing a huge tax increase and they should hire someone to appeal their new valuation. Joyner said the letter is misleading as new tax rates have not even been set yet.
“Some people have received a mailer, I will leave the company unknown, talking about your taxes are going to go up and giving you an exact dollar amount,” Joyner said. “That information is using your new value with the old tax rate to scare people. We have actually sent something to the attorney general’s office but we don’t know if they will do anything about it. We have got hundreds of calls from people complaining about the letter.”
One resident at the meeting said she “nearly had a heart attack” when she opened the letter.
“And of course, they said they could help you, and for a fee of course,” the resident said. “At 80, these kinds of things can upset you.”
“You don’t have to be 80 to be scared, believe me,” Joyner said.
While values have increased, that doesn’t mean residents are facing hefty tax increases. Mecklenburg County and the six municipalities in the county could set a revenue-neutral rate that would raise the same amount of revenue or they could set a rate to raise more revenue. If revenue-neutral rates are set, with normal growth also considered, many residents could see a minimal tax increase.
Tax rates are set during budget talks by the county and local cities and towns in the county. That process is usually finished by mid-June.
“Our tax rate will change this year,” Joyner said. “They (each jurisdiction) will be required to advertise for you what a revenue neutral rate would be, meaning that each jurisdiction based on their normal growth over the last few years, what their tax rate would be at that same level. They are not required to adopt that, but it gives you information to know if there is an overall increase. With the reval, most likely, everyone’s tax rate will likely change because we are redistributing the overall value.”
Joyner told the residents that if they had concerns with their new valuation, they should request an informal review now from the assessor’s office. Joyner even encouraged several residents to start that process after hearing their concerns.
Commercial valuations have increased 77 percent from the last revaluation and former chairman of the Equalization and Review Board Jim Barnett feels some of that sticker shock, both residential and commercial, is due to the fact that some properties were artificially lowered after one review of the 2011 revaluation.
After the county’s original 2011 revaluation was met with dissatisfaction from some county residents, two independent reviews were conducted. One review at a cost of around $7 million by Pearson Appraisal and Associates reduced valuations on certain properties and forced the county to pay out millions of dollars in refunds to taxpayers whose properties Pearson said were overvalued. A third review by appraisal consultant Josh Myers basically said the county’s original revaluation was on target.
“Your values in areas that were not touched by Pearson, those values jumped about 25 percent between 2011 and 2018,” Barnett said. “The values that were touched jumped 40 to 60 percent. This is my opinion, the reason they got that 60, 70, 80 percent, or whatever, increase is they had to catch up to the first one. If you looked at the commercial that dropped, they had to catch up with that first number, and I think they artificially reduced them in the first place”
The deadline to file a formal appeal for review by the Board of Equalization and Review is May 20.