County commissioners
at least trying to ease
pain of revaluation

Published 3:36 am Tuesday, June 23, 2009

By Staff
It won’t be pretty, but it could be worse.
We’re talking about property taxes — and the state-mandated revaluation Beaufort and other counties are required to do at least every eight years.
As you read in Sunday’s Daily News, county property values could rise an average of 35 percent when appraisals by the county Tax Assessor’s Office are completed later this year. That’s similar to property revaluation increases our neighboring counties, where rates shot up from 15 to 45 percent.
And though it’s sometimes soothing to know others are feeling our pain, it sure doesn’t help our bank accounts or wallets.
What may help ease the trauma, though, is knowing that our county commissioners and county manager are feeling our pain.
Though most, if not all, Beaufort County homeowners are expected to pay more property tax in 2010 than they did this year, the county commission has pledged to keep residents’ tax rate revenue neutral after revaluation.
With a huge expected increase in property values, commissioners have said they are dedicated to lowering the county’s current tax rate of 60 cents per $100 valuation. How much they’ll lower it, we don’t yet know, but it’s a good sign that they understand the significance of the property-value increase and how it will especially affect the less-affluent among us.
And keep in mind, the county didn’t dream this up just to raise more money. State law requires that property be appraised for taxation at 100 percent of market value at least once every eight years.
Beaufort County last revalued property in 2002, and the current reassessment will ensure that all property values match current market values and that every property owner is taxed equitably.
According to Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill, our area has experienced a real-estate boom in the past eight years — though you wouldn’t know it these days.
And that’s what makes the revaluation surreal for some residents: They haven’t been able to sell their homes because of the nasty recession we’re in — or they have sold them, but for less than they could have a year or so ago — yet their property values have skyrocketed.
Go figure.
So hang in there, folks, and we’ll ride this out together.