Macon reval on hold in light of sputtering real estate market

Macon County will postpone a countywide reassessment of property values from 2013 until 2015.

County Tax Assessor Richard Lightner recommended waiting because of lackluster sales: there simply hasn’t been enough property changing hands to provide a baseline for the going price of real estate these days. Property values determine how much people pay in property taxes.

Lightner said that it would be difficult to set accurate values Macon County could defend from costly appeals by property owners.

County Manager Jack Horton said the hope is that the real estate market will have improved by 2015. Regardless, the county must do a revaluation by then, as it is required as least every eight years under state law.

In the meantime, high-end properties that are over-valued on the county’s tax books will remain so, meaning people might pay higher taxes than what their property is worth. Macon commissioners, during a recent work session on the issue, said that postponing the revaluation will keep the tax burden predominantly on its higher-end residents in Highlands and spare tax increases, for the short term at least, to the county at large.

Jackson County, by comparison, is looking still to do its revaluation in 2013, which means revaluated property, coupled with a revenue-neutral budget would, almost inevitably, shift the tax burden from the Cashiers area to the less-affluent areas of the county.

Haywood County went through with its property revaluation this year, but saw property values on average remain flat.

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