The 2021 reappraisals from Buncombe County have arrived, much to the dismay of the many people posting on Nextdoor and my friends who are homeowners, as am I. While this is a reflection of how “hot” this area is in many neighborhoods, we are in the midst of a pandemic with reduced income and higher unemployment for many of us. The projected property taxes, using the 2020 formula and the higher valuation, will be an issue for many residents. If you are selling your house, it is fantastic. If you are an average person trying to stay in your house and pay all your bills, it may be difficult.
While we can file an appeal, there is no guarantee that the new figure will be significant enough to make much difference in your tax burden. Perhaps a better method would be to flood the emails and phones of county commissioners and City Council members expressing your desire for the property taxes to be adjusted to a “revenue neutral” basis for 2021. Maybe there are areas of the county and city budgets that can be analyzed and pared down, or the reserves built into them can be utilized. These folks are elected by us and need to hear our concerns. Have a heart, elected officials, as many of us struggle to pay for housing/food/heat, etc. If you do not have any financial issues, please think of your neighbors who may be in a more dire situation.
Not only are the homeowners being affected by increased taxes, but the trickle down goes to renters, as landlords also need to cover their increased costs. As disposable income shrinks, it means less will be spent in local businesses. Less sales tax revenue means less income for the county and city. It is a vicious cycle, and the solution is not always a property tax increase. This area already has some of the highest rental costs in the state, and one can only wonder how many families will need to leave the county for more affordable outlying areas.
Asheville has had such a great marketing campaign for well-heeled visitors (many of whom are now residents) that we are evolving into a place only affordable to wealthy retirees and those with well-paying remote jobs. So where do the hotel, restaurant staff and other people in allied service fields go? It becomes more difficult to find a home close to their jobs, and we know parking is a serious issue, which adds to the commuting problem. Try researching the lyrics to Don Henley’s song “The Last Resort” and substitute Asheville’s mountains for Malibu’s coast.
Please reach out to those who control the taxes and our future direction with your complaints. We do have a voice, so please use it. Think of those among us who are not wealthy and make the effort to maybe not “keep Asheville weird,” but to keep Asheville as a place for all. As the last line of the song goes, “You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.”
— Larry Layton