Local Politics

Wake Leaning Toward More Frequent Property Revaluations

Wake County property owners could be hit twice as often by property revaluations in the future – but the tax values of their land, homes or other buildings should jump less each time.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County property owners could be hit twice as often by property revaluations in the future – but the values of their land, homes or other buildings shouldn't rise as much each time.

The tax value of all real estate in the county has been adjusted every eight years, but the Board of Commissioners is looking to switch to a four-year cycle to keep those assessed values more closely aligned with market values.

When the county revalued property last fall for the first time since 2000, the average property increased 43 percent in value – neighborhoods inside the Interstate 440 Beltline in Raleigh jumped an average of 73 percent – giving many area homeowners a case of sticker shock.

"Some of the properties get way out of bounds with market value over an eight-year cycle, and it would be better to get those more in line in four years rather than wait the full eight years," said Emmett Curl, Wake County's revenue director.

Forty-six of North Carolina's 100 counties revalue property on an eight-year cycle, while 41 use a four-year cycle. The other 13 revalue every five, six or seven years.

While some property owners could avoid the shock if revaluations happened more often, they might face higher annual tax bills in some years than they would have by waiting for the eight-year cycle.

Assessing every piece of property in the county twice as often also would cost almost $1.1 million more per cycle because additional manpower is needed, officials said.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan said more frequent revaluations are an issue of fairness, however.

"Fairness to areas that are appreciating more and paying a reasonable amount of taxes in the county ... would be the advantage of doing them more frequently," Bryan said.

The commissioners could approve the plan as early as next week. If they do, the next revaluation would be in 2013 because it takes an extra year to get the process going. After that, adjustments would be made every four years.

The Blue Ribbon Committee on the Future of Wake County called two years ago for revaluing property every four years and maintaining a consistent tax rate to generate revenue for growth.

"We've already stated that we're have a revenue-neutral tax rate to start from, and any expansiopns to the budget will be fully debated and transparent," Bryan said.

County commissioners agreed in January to adopt a revenue-neutral approach to the latest revaluation. They promised they will roll the county tax rate back from 57 to 53 cents per $100 of assessed value to avoid collecting a windfall from the higher property values.