The largest single source of revenue for most local governments is property taxes. Those are generated by multiplying the tax rate, usually expressed in cents per $100 valuation, by the value of the property, which is set by the assessor’s office.
Revenues rise and fall when commissioners raise or lower tax rates, or when property values rise or decline. It’s the revaluation process that determines the rise or decline in property values.
In 2017, a similar revaluation produced disappointing results, suggesting that the region still hadn’t fully recovered from the real estate-based Great Recession of 2008. Property values were largely flat throughout the county and in each of its municipalities.
That’s a problem for local governments because labor, materials and other non-fixed costs increase every year. If property values don’t keep pace, governments have little choice but to cut services or raise taxes.
Back in February, Haywood County Commission Chairman Kevin Ensley told The Smoky Mountain News that he’d heard the county could be in line for big gains this time around — as much as 20 percent. Judy Hickman, Haywood County’s tax assessor, confirmed that on Oct. 20.
“We’re generally looking at 20 to 25 percent increases in value,” Hickman said.
That would leave local governments more leeway in crafting COVID-hobbled budgets for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2021. If property values do indeed rise, local governments will collect more money without having to raise the tax rate. They could elect to spend that money, or cut the tax rate to bring collections back down closer to the current level.
Property owners won’t find out until a letter hits their mailboxes sometime between February and April what their specific valuations are.
Jimmy Tanner, president of Tanner Valuation, told commissioners on Oct. 19 that the customary appeals period — during which property owners may dispute the values arising from the revaluation process — would feature an online dispute form, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The revaluation public hearing will be held 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 2, in the Haywood County Historic Courthouse. More information on the process is available at www.haywoodcountync.gov/709/2021-schedule-of-values.