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Mecklenburg County eyes two percent increase in real estate tax rate

SoVaNow.com / April 25, 2018
Rising property values could portend a modest bump in Mecklenburg County’s real estate tax rate.

The Board of Supervisors has set a public hearing for Monday, May 14 at 9:30 a.m. in the Goode Building meeting room in Boydton to hear citizen comment on the 2 percent effective rate hike, which would go into effect with the 2018-2019 budget year that commences July 1.

The county is proposing to leave the real estate tax rate at 42 cents per $100 in value, but because county properties have risen overall in the latest reassessment, this translates into a higher effective tax rate. To maintain a “revenue neutral” tax — one that brings in the same amount of overall revenue — the supervisors would have to lower the real estate rate to 41 cents per $100.

How individuals will be personally affected by the tax increase depends on the results of their property reassessments. Taxes will go up on real estate that has retained its current value or gained value; properties that have lost value could incur less or the same amount of tax, depending on the decline in value..

By state law, localities are required to advertise a tax increase when their effective tax rates are set to rise. The notice must come 14 days before approval of the budget.

County Administrator Wayne Carter said supervisors have yet to take up a 2018-19 fiscal year budget for Mecklenburg County in part because of the failure of the General Assembly to enact the state’s biennial budget. Lawmakers are currently convened in a special budget session after the House and Senate failed to reach agreement on a spending package in February.

To make certain the public is timely notified of a potential increase in taxes, Carter said he decided to go ahead and publish a notice of tax increase.

“The Board [of Supervisors] could decide they want to lower the tax rate by a penny — a revenue neutral position,” said Carter. “For now, I am keeping options open for the board in case we see less money from the state in the upcoming budget year.”

Carter added that he does not anticipate a reduction in state funding, but right now, there’s no guarantee.

The assessment of real estate in Mecklenburg County, recently completed by the office of Commissioner of Revenue Ed Taylor, shows a slight overall increase in local real estate values, said Carter. If supervisors decide to maintain the current real estate tax rate of 42 cents, Mecklenburg will reap an approximate $375,000 gain in tax revenues.

If the county receives fewer dollars in the state budget, the $375,000 will offset that loss. If Mecklenburg receives the same amount or more from the state, the additional $375,000 could go toward school needs or other local agencies whose budget requests have not been not fully funded.

Until the General Assembly completes its work on the state budget, Carter said he must rely on last year’s numbers when drafting the county budget for the 2019 fiscal year. Without guidance from the state, said Carter, “I’m simply covering my bases to allow us to adopt a budget and authorize spending before July 1, when the new budget year begins.”

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