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Wednesday, 17 June 2009 19:41

Swain given option to rescind property reval

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Swain County will be able to rescind its latest property revaluation — which caused property values to increase by an average of 30 percent — thanks to a bill in the General Assembly.

The county had hoped to scrap its property revaluation after commissioners feared the increased values would prove too much for local citizens to bear. A bill in the General Assembly would allow the county to just that, and instead conduct a property revaluation in another four years. However, Swain County commissioners failed to pass a resolution in support of the measure and missed the deadline for the county to be eligible.

On Monday, June 15, Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy, successfully amended the bill to give the county until June 30 to pass a resolution.

County residents have protested the property values en masse, submitting more than 3,000 informal appeals out of a total of about 11,000 property parcels. Many were shocked that values would rise in an economic downturn. However, sale prices have remained high in Swain County, though the number of sales has dropped off.

“A lot of people’s taxes were going to have to go up, and like I’ve said before, it’s never a good idea to increase taxes,” said Commissioner Steve Moon.

Though commissioners proposed lowering the tax rate to 31.7 cents per $100, they ideally hoped to be able to drop the revaluation altogether and conduct another one in four years, when the economy has bounced back.

“It’s bad economic times, and every household is suffering,” said Commissioner Chairman Glenn Jones. “It’s just not a good time right now to raise taxes.”

There’s one downside to scrapping the revaluation — the county spent $240,000 to conduct it and can’t get its money back. However, there’s little the county could have done, because state law at the time required it to conduct a property revaluation.

“When we spent it, we thought that was a necessity. It was required at the time,” said Moon.

In the end, commissioners believe they’ll just have to cut their losses and sacrifice the cost the revaluation for the greater good of county residents.

“If we can do away with it to the benefit of the majority of the people, we need to do away with it,” Moon said.

Commissioner David Monteith agreed.

“I sure do support throwing out the new one and going back to the old (values),” Monteith said. “It’s just too hard on people. Even though the county’s going to lose money, I still support doing away with it.”

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