The table is set for Buncombe County Commissioners to see more than $41 million in extra revenue from property owners for the next fiscal year, if they keep the same the tax rate — according to preliminary numbers from the county tax department’s recently finished property tax reappraisal.
Those numbers, subject to revisions from appeals, show that the county’s 2017 property tax base now stands at about $31.5 billion. That’s up by $6.8 billion, a 28 percent increase from the county’s 2013 assessment, which valued taxable property at $24.7 billion. The 2017 value is up 41 percent from 2006’s taxable value ($22.3 billion).
To put the numbers in perspective, the potential $41 million in new tax revenue (based on the county’s current tax rate of 60.4 cents per $100 of valued property) would equal 10 percent of the county’s current overall budget of $413,574,951. However, the $41 million could fluctuate based on what commissioners do with fiscal year 2018’s property tax rate and will likely be a topic of discussion during the commissioners’ retreat Feb. 17. However, setting the rate likely won’t come to a vote until June, when the current fiscal year ends. Commissioners requested the reappraisal in April of 2016.
Property owners in the city of Asheville will see the largest increases. Downtown has the highest increase with an average property value increase of 44 percent. Areas like North-West Asheville and Kenilworth are both looking at an average property value increase of 40 percent and, on the low end, South Asheville and Sand Hill properties are experiencing an average of 17 and 19 percent increases, respectively.
Outside of Asheville, the biggest increase is in Woodfin and Weaverville, both with an average increase of 32 percent. Montreat and Sandy Mush come in with the lowest average increases, both at 3 percent.
However, Gary Roberts, the county’s tax director says, “We don’t look at percent change on the maps. Even in those neighborhoods, those changes are all over the place. That’s just an average of that whole area.”
“I’m sure it’s a shocker, no doubt. And everybody’s scared their tax bill will go up, that’s a given,” notes Roberts, who says the assessed value should represent what a property owner believes they could sell their home for.
“The head-scratcher in this [reappraisal] is how quick the market has come back and where we’re at today versus where we were at in 2013,” notes Keith Miller, the county’s real estate manager. “I think every citizen with their hand in the market is saying, ‘What in the world is going on?’ because of that fast change. We have skyrocketed past any level that we’ve ever been at in Buncombe County as far as days on market and average sales price.”
“Just because your [area] went up 30 percent doesn’t mean your bill will go up 30 percent. [People] need to wait to see what commissioners do with the [property tax] rate. We don’t have anything to do with the rate,” notes Miller.
Miller continues, “The change you see, 30-40 percent, that’s the market driving the number, not us. It’s the real estate market … over the last three years, we’ve analyzed about 16,000 transactions. All those transactions are what sets the values.”
And if you think your value isn’t correct then the county’s tax department definitely wants to hear from you. Roberts says, “Anytime we have the opportunity to talk to a citizen, that gives us the opportunity to update the information we have in our computer database, to do a better assessment. So we don’t mind an appeal at all,” he notes.
Roberts says during the reappraisal in 2006, the county saw roughly 15,000 appeals while the last revaluation in 2013 had about 6,000 appeals. Miller accounts the 2013 drop to a slumping market, “So 2013 was different because values were down. A lot of people were not contesting, they were comfortable with it … We expect with these changes we’ll be back to about 15-16,000 [appeals].”
Roberts agrees, “We’ll be busy the first couple of weeks, no doubt … We want people to contact us. If a citizen is nervous or concerned, I really want to hear from them.”
The county will begin mailing reassessed property values on Friday, Jan. 27. If you want to contest your value, you can do so online here, or call the county at 250-4940.