Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Among cities & towns, Graham has highest increase in property values

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Swepsonville, Haw River, Ossipee, & Mebane also above county’s overall average

Some of Alamance County’s leaders were noticeably rattled last week when they learned that the assessed value of the county’s tax base had shot up by nearly 80 percent since the county’s tax office implemented the results of its most recent property tax revaluation earlier this month.

Yet, this rising tide, which reflects the cumulative gains in real property values since the county’s last revaluation in 2017, has also done much to lift the metaphorical keels of Alamance County’s cities and towns.

In fact, some local municipalities have seen even greater increases in tax values thanks to the revaluation’s results.

According to the county’s tax office, the city of Graham has seen a particularly impressive jump of 86.94 percent, while the towns of Haw River, Ossipee and Swepsonville have also posted increases in excess of 82 percent. With an increase of 80.73 percent, Mebane has also surpassed the county’s overall total of 79.43 percent.

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The tax office ultimately informed the county’s cities and towns of their own post-revaluation tax bases following last Tuesday’s announcement of the countywide total to the county’s board of commissioners. These figures are reprinted in the accompanying chart, along with the level of increase in each municipality’s tax base since the tax office last ran the numbers in December of 2022.

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These increases in tax values can be loosely interpreted as the tax office’s estimate of the overall change in the market values of each community’s taxable real property since the county’s previous revaluation six years ago. Due to the inherent complexity of mass reassessments, the state only requires its counties to conduct revaluations once every eight years, although it allows them to take place as frequently as four years apart.

Although Alamance County has traditionally opted for an eight-year revaluation cycle, the board of commissioners has decided to shorten the interval to six years for the latest mass reappraisal as it moves toward a new four-year schedule for future revaluations.

The increase that the tax office has calculated in each municipality’s tax base includes the net impact of all the adjustments it made during the latest revaluation. A small part of the increase also comes from any new construction, renovations, and changes in taxable status that have occurred in the past calendar year. But the new values do not include these same adjustments from previous years, which are factored into the tax office’s figures on a year-to-year basis.

In addition to the cumulative figures that it has shared with the county’s cities and towns, the tax office also intends to notify the county’s individual property owners of their own post-revaluation tax values. The county’s tax administrator Jeremy Akins has cautioned area residents not to read too much into these values, which he concedes will be much greater, on average, than they were before the mass reassessment.

Akins has stressed that a higher tax value doesn’t necessarily imply a higher tax bill since each resident’s tax obligation is also based on the tax rates that county and municipal officials set after the revaluation.

Under state law, each local government is required to state the so-called “revenue neutral” tax rate that will allow it to break even despite the post-revaluation bump in the tax base. Some jurisdictions may go on to adopt these revenue neutral rates – as a majority of Alamance County’s commissioners have already publicly professed they will do. It remains to be seen how many of their municipal counterparts will also follow their cue.

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