Local News

Wake Aims to Hold Tax Bills Steady After Values Rise

Posted January 22, 2008 6:37 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2008 7:04 p.m. EST

— The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday set itself a target tax rate that would protect many homeowners from seeing their bills rise because of increased property assessments and could even lower taxes.

Most Wake County homes are worth more because of a revaluation completed last year. In a move to have the county stick by a revenue-neutral budget, however, the commissioners said they want to lower the tax rate to balance that.

Tax bills are the result of multiplying the assessed value of a property times a tax rate, usually some amount per hundreds dollars of value. If values go up and the tax rate goes down enough, the resulting bill can stay the same or even go down.

Currently, taxes on a $200,000 home are about $1,300. Next year, the commissioners said, that bill would drop to about $1,000 with their target tax rate of 53 cents per $100.

Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble led the push to keep property taxes nearly the same.

“I just think this addresses a number of concerns from people who weren't going to be able to pay their taxes on their own,” Coble said. “We're going to recognize that we have to live within a budget just like those who are affected by revaluation.”

A majority of commissioners signed off on the idea of directing the county manager to draw up a budget with the target tax rate.

However, Commissioner Betty Lou Ward, who voted against it, said she's worried it's a promise commissioners won’t be able to keep.

“It concerns me that we're taking a vote that we may have to go back on in a few months,” Ward said.

Others said that if they do have to change the goal because of other factors, it will at least be a public statement.

“We'll be transparent,” Joe Bryan, commission chairman said.

The bottom line will be clearer later this year, when commissioners will have to decide if they need more money for services.

If you live in any of Wake County's 12 cities or town, the value of your home is subject to each local government’s tax rate, too, and the commissioners say they will urge the communities to lower their tax rates as well.

The county lists current tax rates on its Web site.