New property values do not necessarily mean a tax increase
POLK COUNTY—Many Polk County property owners were shocked last Monday when they received their new property values in the mail.
Polk County did its property revaluation, which was effective Jan. 1, 2021. The county began doing revaluations every 4 years instead of every 8 years following the last revaluation, when some properties, particularly near the Tryon International Equestrian Center, increased tremendously. County commissioners decided it would be less of a shock in increases if the county did the revaluation every 4 years. The state requires revaluations at least every 8 years, but most counties have now changed to every 4 years so the increases are not as much.
Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said last week after many people took to social media about their values increasing to make sure people call the county tax office and appeal if they feel their increase is erroneous.
Pittman also said that the county tries to take a revenue neutral rate on revaluation years, so just because the value of a property increases, that does not mean the taxes will increase. Pittman said taxes may not increase at all because of the rate reduction, it depends on the individual property.
“The tax valuations are handled by the tax office,” Pittman said. “The tax rate is handled by the commissioners. There is very little appetite for increasing the tax rate beyond revenue neutral, unless we have an emergency situation that requires it.”
Revenue neutral mean the county will collect close to the same amount of revenue as the year prior to operate.
“We can’t say for sure that the individual bill will go up or down, because everybody’s bill is different,” Pittman said. “The objective is to drop the rate so the actual bill is close to the prior bill.”
This year’s revaluation was different as sales have been high in recent years. The county’s last revaluation was effective on Jan. 1, 2017 and home sales are currently an average of $357,000, which is up from an average of $259,000 in 2017.
Part of the reason for some of the increases this year is the county went up on its price per square foot from $84.50 to $112 per square foot. Polk County Tax Administrator Melissa Bowlin explained to commissioners last year that the price per square foot was increased to catch up to the actual home rate since it has been the $84.50 per square foot rate since 2009.
The county will establish its new tax rate in May or June for the new budget year, which will begin July 1. All 3 towns will also have to establish a tax rate for the new budget year at the same time and historically have taken the new values into account.
Pittman said the county’s tax rate increases in the past few years have been tied to specific projects, like the new jail, after school program and public safety.
“Our rate is one of the lowest in the state of North Carolina, which with this revaluation will be driven even lower,” Pittman said.
The Polk County Board of Equalization and Review will hear all appeals. The appeal process was sent with the new values and property owners have 30 days from the date of the notice to appeal the new values.