Monday, May 20, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Revaluation appeals deadline past: 4,821 appeals filed – for 6.3% of taxable parcels, compared to 10% estimated

Last Friday (May 5) marked the last day for area property owners to appeal the new property tax assessments that they received when Alamance County implemented the results of its latest state-mandated revaluation in January.

But while the deadline to challenge the reval’s results has come and gone, the county’s tax office is still coming to grips with the fallout from the nearly 5,000 appeals that this year’s mass reassessment has generated.

According to Alamance County’s tax administrator Jeremy Akins, the task ahead for him and his staff has been complicated by a last-minute torrent of filings that preceded last Friday’s cutoff.

“It was going so well until the last two weeks, when we got a surge,” he recalled, “and a lot of that surge has been corporate appeals.”

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Akins added that, as of Tuesday afternoon, the tax office had logged a total of 4,821 revaluation appeals, which represented some 6.3 percent of all the taxable parcels in Alamance County. He conceded that this figure could nudge up in the coming days as the tax office receives late-coming submissions that have been properly postmarked by Friday’s date. He insisted, however, that the final figure should still be well within the 10-percent margin that he has been using as a placeholder for budgetary purposes.

Akins went on to stress that he has generally been reassured by the response to the recent revaluation, which he had convinced the county’s board of commissioners to conduct two years ahead of its traditional eight-year reval cycle due to a growing discrepancy between real estate sale prices and the assessed tax values set during the county’s previous mass reassessment in 2017. By the time that the tax administrator proposed this change, the state had already ordered the county to complete its next reval a year ahead of schedule. In recommending a two year adjustment, Akins said that the county would also recover roughly $400,000 in tax revenue from utility companies that the state had withheld in light of the aforementioned discrepancy.

Akins acknowledged that the corporate submissions which account for a large chunk of the final surge could have an outsized impact on the local tax base since they concern properties with particularly high values. In the meantime, he said that his office has already begun to adjust some of its financial projections to account for the potential ramifications of these appeals.

On May 1, Akins and his colleagues updated their tax base calculations for the county and its constituent municipalities based in part on their improved understanding of the impact of the reval appeals. The tax office also issued revenue projections for the municipalities – along with the “revenue neutral,” or break even, tax rate that would nullify the financial windfall that each city or town would get from the reval.

Akins confessed that he had initially expected each municipality to calculate its own revenue neutral rate using the raw data that his office has continuously been passing along. He added that requests from several communities convinced him to crunch the numbers himself, which required him to refine his rather approximate numbers for the municipalities.

“Since we’re providing this for them to make decisions on,” he said, “I thought I should be a little more careful.”

Akins went on to adjust his earlier figures for each city or town to better capture the probable impact of the revaluation appeals for that jurisdiction. He also examined recent trends in growth and development to anticipate the “natural” increase that each municipality will see in its taxbase when it kicks off the new fiscal year in July.

The county’s tax administrator ultimately factored these figures in to the revenue neutral tax rates that he distributed to the municipalities at the beginning of May. These numbers don’t always mesh with the revenue neutral estimates that municipal staff members have obtained on their own. In fact, the city managers in Burlington and Mebane presented break-even rates of 41 and 34.21 cents to their respective councils last week, while Akins has proffered even lower figures of 39.42 and 32.14 cents to each municipality. Akins nevertheless points out that both Mebane and Burlington contain territory in other counties that wasn’t included in his calculations, which only considered taxable property within Alamance County. In Burlington’s case, the city has additional territory in Guilford County while Mebane municipal limits extend into Orange County.

The revenue neutral rates that Akins has sent to each municipal are replicated in the following table, along with the corresponding figure for Alamance County, which remains unchanged since the tax office released its previous batch of post-reval statistics on March 31.


Cities to consider new tax rates much higher than “revenue neutral”:

Burlington +21%:

Graham +20%:

Elon + 14%:

Mebane +11%:

PLUS: Our editorial page views on tax rates in:

Burlington & Mebane:

Elon & Graham:

Commissioner Pam Thompson says her recent opposition to revaluation not influenced by politics (being on the ballot again next year):

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