New property tax values coming to Jackson
The yardstick Jackson County will use to calculate property values next year is up for discussion at a public hearing 5:40 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Jackson County Administration Building.
The county’s schedule of values is a massive document that delineates how different characteristics of a home — square footage, neighborhood and type of foundation, for starters — affect its value.
“Once adopted, this is actually the basis for any evaluations until our next revaluation, whenever that is,” said County Manager Chuck Wooten. “That’s why this is a really very important step.”
Come January, property owners will get a piece of mail declaring their home’s adjusted value, and on average that number is set to go down. Bobby McMahan, the county’s tax assessor, isn’t done crunching all the numbers, but on average the decline will likely be in the 20 percent range.
The last revaluation was done in 2008, when Jackson was at the height of its housing boom. Shortly thereafter, the recession hit and market values plummeted. Because lower assessed values mean a smaller property tax base, the county put off revaluation until 2016, at eight years the longest gap legally allowed. County commissioners have said they’ll be looking to maintain a revenue-neutral budget, meaning they’ll likely up the tax rate so that the overall revenue coming from the decreased home values will be the same as what the county’s been taking in with the inflated values.
While the average tax bill won’t change under this plan, the situation will vary for individual homeowners. High-value homes, for instance, saw the biggest jump in price during the boom and the biggest drop in value afterward, so these homeowners could see a lower tax bill following the revaluation and increased tax rate. Meanwhile, lower-value homes didn’t see as much swing between boom and bust, so owners of those homes might see a higher tax bill after the revaluation and increased tax rate.
Though values now aren’t what they were at their height — and quite possibly never will be — the situation is better than it’s been since the recession, McMahan said.
“I don’t know that it’s 100 percent there (recovered). I’d say no,” McMahan said. “But is it way, way better than it was three years ago or even two years ago? Absolutely.”
Going forward, the county will likely plan another revaluation before eight more years elapse. Shorter gaps mean less work per revaluation for McMahan’s office, as well as capturing increased market value in property taxes.
“As we start our budget process come the first of the year, we can start thinking about going to a four-year cycle if we need to,” said County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan.
Want to go?
What: Public hearing on Jackson County’s new schedule of values.
When: 5:40 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19
Where: Room A201 of the Jackson County Administration Building, 401 Grindstaff Cove Road in Sylva
Why: The schedule of values will be used as a measuring stick with which to determine tax values for homes and other properties across Jackson County. Oral comments are limited to three minutes. The 233-page document is online at www.jacksonnc.org/PDF/agenda/november-05/20151105-item3.pdf.