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Homeowners up in arms over property reval

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Commissioners got an earful about historic rises in property values during a public comment period on March 6.

After the Tax Department sent out notices last week to property owners, some two dozen took the commissioners to task, fearing higher property taxes for the coming year.

Overall, county property values rose about 30 percent after the four-year revaluation process, but many values rose even higher. 

Many of those present feared their increased property values would translate to higher property taxes at the same rate. Benjamin Landruth, for example, said his property’s value had increased by $90,700 from 2021 while David Adcock said his property was appraised at $26,000 more than it’s worth.

Prior to the special public comment period following the monthly commissioners meeting, Finance Officer Will Massie presented a sample calculation of how the county reduces the tax rate after revaluation so that it’s revenue neutral. 

He explained that the state requires counties to reevaluate property at least once every eight years. Randolph County now reappraises property every four years to lessen the “sticker shock.”

If the county’s budget were $72,427,500, Massie said, the current tax rate of 63.27 cents per $100 of value would raise that revenue. 

With the recent revaluation values, he said, a tax rate of 55.71 cents would create that amount. 

But with needed increases in the budget for the next fiscal year, up to $73,627,299, the revenue neutral rate would be 56.27 cents per $100 of value.

While those were sample numbers, Commission Chair Darrell Frye said that’s how the process works. Even without revaluation this year, Frye said growth in the county would have produced more tax revenues. He reminded the audience that the commissioners had built a new school, were renovating Asheboro High School and expanding the Detention Center, all without raising the tax rate.

Frye also said that, with revaluation, 70 percent of property owners in the county were experiencing increases in value between 10 and 60 percent. He said if citizens found errors in their values, they should schedule a hearing with the Board of Equalization and Review, which is comprised of county residents other than commissioners. 

Property values during revaluation are set at fair market value, as required by the state, Frye said, adding that it’s a complex process. 

“We use revenue neutral as our guide,” he said. 

Frye also said new industries coming into the county create more demand for property, thus raising values.

Patricia Hall led the public comments period, saying she was opposed to the new assessments. 
“Homes were selling way over their value last year,” she said, adding that she’s seen reports that home prices are beginning to fall. “A 40-50 percent rise feels wrong.”

Carol Campbell said her property values had increased 47 percent. 

“This is not fair,” she said. “You’ve got to help us out.”

Franklinville Commissioner Billy Farias told the board that a neighbor of his has had to sell vehicles to pay his taxes. “Please consider those on fixed incomes,” he said.

Josh Langley suggested that the county “just increase property values by 1 percent and keep the same tax rate.

Steve Maness said farmers can’t pass along tax increases on their land since they’re locked in to contracts or get what they can from cattle auctions. “How are we supposed to compensate?”

Melody Glenn said the county should have seen the higher values coming and delayed revaluation for another year. She said even with a lower tax rate, “my bill will still go up.”

Tom Walker tried to explain the process to those opposed to the higher property values. He held up a dollar representing land values and said the tax rate was a dime. Then, with values going up to two dollars, the tax rate drops to a nickel. “The county still gets a dime,” he said.

Joe Millikan asked those in the audience “to respect these people up front. These are bad times right now and there’s nothing they can do about it.” He said those who disagreed with their property values should take it up with the Board of Equalization and Review for an adjustment.

“There’s a shortage of housing,” Millikan said. “Prices are high because there’s not enough of them. Everything inflates everything. We should work together and think about” solving the problem.

Days after homeowners began to receive their revaluations last week, Frye released a statement on behalf of the commissioners to explain the process.