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Jackson, Macon work to resolve boundary line

Jackson, Macon work to resolve boundary line

Taxpayers who own property straddling the Macon-Jackson County line may notice changes to their ad valorem tax bills next year. 

Both counties have signed a resolution agreeing to these suggested changes that have been part of an eight-year dispute over the county boundary lines.

Tax Administrator Abby Braswell presented the proposed resolution to Macon County commissioners on Dec. 14, a week after Jackson County passed the resolution without much discussion. 

In 2013, the two counties agreed to hire a third party — North Carolina Geodetic Survey — to locate and survey the boundary line. However, work didn’t begin on the project until early 2017. The field work for the project was completed by the State Surveyor Ronald Harding, and the final proposed line was provided to the counties in July 2020. 

The process was held up again when Jackson expressed concerns over nine areas on the proposed map and more work had to be done to research those areas. Upon further review and a site visit, the NCGS didn’t find any evidence to make any changes to the information already provided.

The survey conducted found that Macon and Jackson had been using a boundary established by recorded deeds and plats depicting the location of the ridgeline separating the counties. However, Braswell said, the ridgeline is not the same as it once was. 

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“The ridge has changed due to all of the development that has happened over many years,” she said. “So Jackson and Macon have had separate boundary lines where they said it was and where we said it was.”

In the past, tax collectors from each county have had an unwritten, verbal agreement on how to handle the differing surveys to ensure taxpayers weren’t getting doubly taxed by both counties, but Braswell said a more formal agreement is needed moving forward. 

Using the new survey, five houses will now be assessed in Macon instead of Jackson County and Jackson will gain one house that’s been taxed previously by Macon. Braswell said the N.C. Department of Revenue recommended splitting assessment on homes that are partly in Macon and partly in Jackson. However, if less than 5 percent of a home is located in one county, the other county will continue to assess the entire home.

“We’re not going to split those hairs,” Braswell said. 

Using the DOR’s recommendations, 19 houses have been identified that straddle the Macon-Jackson line. Braswell said the splitting will be further complicated since Jackson and Macon are on different revaluation schedules. Jackson just completed a revaluation, so its property values are slightly higher than Macon’s, which is scheduled for a revaluation next year. 

“We will have to work closely with Jackson to identify the value for each county, so taxpayers are assessed fairly,” she said. 

The new recommendations presented more questions for commissioners. County Attorney Eric Ridenour asked what would happen if one of the split houses went into foreclosure.

“How would we foreclose on half a house?” he asked. 

Braswell said DOR didn’t address that in its report. 

Commissioner Ronnie Beale assumed there would need to be some agreement between the counties requiring them both to file the foreclosure.

There were also questions about assessment software and what would happen with new builds and where the new deed would be registered if it was split between the counties. 

The resolution also includes that after adoption, Macon and Jackson counties will work together to reconcile county services to affected properties such as Board of Elections, zoning, building permitting, emergency response and tax assessments. 

Braswell said property owners impacted by the new boundary line will receive a letter from the state informing them of their new status.

Leave a comment

1 comment

  • Not sure about the source of the map....
    If the survey is no more accurate than the information in the map, there should be grave concerns...
    Chattanooga River?
    Someone needs a geography refresher.

    posted by R. Spillars

    Thursday, 01/06/2022

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