The clock is now running for Buncombe County property owners. After a unanimous Board of Commissioners vote on Sept. 1 to adopt a new Schedule of Values — the regulations used by Buncombe tax assessors to determine how much all property in the county is worth — owners have until Friday, Oct. 2, to file an appeal over the rules.
To learn the substance of those rules, however, taxpayers must visit the office of Keith Miller, the county’s tax assessor. The current document is not available online and must be viewed in person at 155 Hilliard Ave. in Asheville during regular business hours. (The Schedule of Values for the county’s most recent revaluation, conducted in 2017, is available at avl.mx/85v.)
Buncombe County has conducted revaluations on a four-year cycle since 2013, twice as often as required by North Carolina law. Due to the county’s strong real estate market, Miller told commissioners, values must be updated more frequently to ensure that all property owners are paying taxes based on the true worth of their assets.
“We need to keep in mind that reappraisal is about equalization,” Miller said. “The market changes differently in different areas of the county. You may be able to go east and see that we’re at 80% [of market value]; you may be able to go west and we’re at 90%. [Revaluation] brings all those values back in line with the market to again assure the citizen that they’re only paying their fair share.”
Commissioner Joe Belcher emphasized that revaluation itself does not necessarily lead to a higher tax bill. The amount a property owner pays on the assessed value of their property, he noted, depends on the property tax rate, which is set by the Board of Commissioners as part of the county’s budget process.
“There is no tax increase associated with this whatsoever,” Belcher said. “If the media’s reporting anything different, it is not accurate. It is not true. And whatever that headline may or may not be, this has nothing to do with a tax increase.”
Previous county revaluations, however, have been associated with significant tax increases for many property owners. After the most recent revaluation in 2017, for example, the board set a property tax rate 2.6 cents higher than the revenue-neutral rate.
Annual property taxes on a house worth $300,000 prior to the 2017 revaluation, assessed at the 2016 rate of 60.4 cents, were $1,812. While the tax rate decreased to 53.9 cents after the revaluation, average property values also increased 28%. Therefore, an average $300,000 house was worth $384,000 after the revaluation and faced a 2017 tax bill of about $2,070 — a 14.2% rise over the previous year.
New property values are scheduled to be mailed to owners on Saturday, Jan. 30. Owners may then appeal their new valuations through Wednesday, April 14.