We’ve been concerned that municipalities and other government officials have been laying in wait, planning and plotting all sorts of methodologies to circumvent efforts to offset revaluation of property values by lowering tax rates.
The first evidence of it surfaced this week in Elon, where officials usually are pretty deaf to taxpayer concerns. And they proved it again.
State law requires that counties and municipalities identify a “revenue neutral” tax rate during any budget year following a revaluation of property values.
That’s so residents can evaluate the level at which their taxes are set compared to before revaluation.
So, in the rural Elon fire district, for instance, the county’s tax administrator had estimated that the “revenue neutral” tax rate for the fire district would be 8.07 cents per $100 valuation – as compared to the current rate of 12 cents.
Well, the first “fudge” that we’ve already seen every local government start looking to factor in is an “inflation” tax rate. We think this is very much a misnomer, and a stretch, since there hasn’t actually been any inflation, yet, since the new property tax values were announced. It’s not like they were set a year ago. They were set this year.
But, even with that significant caveat, the tax administrator estimated a “revenue neutral plus inflation tax rate” for the Elon fire district of 8.62 cents per $100 valuation.
Instead, town manager Richard Roedner recommended, and his ever-so-compliant council readily swallowed, unanimously, a higher proposed rate of 8.65 cents per $100 valuation.
Only .03 cents per $100, after all.
That cannot amount to much, could it?
Probably depends on whether you’re receiving the extra money or paying it.
That extra 3/100ths of a cent translates to an extra $37,000 for the fire district – and an additional $37,000, cumulatively, out of the pockets of residents in that rural fire district.
We very much fear that this is only the beginning of many other efforts as budgets are unveiled this spring to goose, or gouge, Alamance County taxpayers, using the tax revaluation as a pretext to extract more money from local residents.