Tax notices ‘in the mail’

Published 8:51 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Staff Writer

Beaufort County property owners will receive their 2010 property tax bills this week, culminating a two-year process of evaluating the values of properties in the county, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners was told Monday.
County Manager Paul Spruill had a message for taxpayers: Please pay your tax bills as soon as you can in order to help bolster the county’s finances in a difficult year.
“I ask the public, any of us who are capable of making those property-tax payments, please do so as early as possible,” Spruill said. “We could really use the help.”
Beaufort County Tax Assessor Bobby Parker told the commissioners that his office planned to mail property tax bills Tuesday morning, and the bills will likely arrive in the mailboxes of the county’s property owners no later than Thursday.
State law requires that property be appraised for taxation at 100 percent of its fair-market value at least once every eight years. The recent revaluation of property took place to ensure that all property values match their current market values and that every property owner is taxed fairly, county leaders have said.
Despite the fact that Beaufort County’s revaluation came during an economic downturn, county leaders expected that most houses and land in Beaufort County would increase in value over those values recorded in 2002 when property was last revalued.
The county’s 2010-2011 fiscal year budget estimated a total tax base after revaluation of $5.5 billion, or an increase of slightly more than 29 percent when compared to the total tax base in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
The tax bills are based on a property tax rate of 50 cents per $100 valuation adopted in June by the commissioners.
Although the property tax rate is 10 cents per $100 valuation lower than the previous rate, it missed the commissioners’ revenue-neutral goal by 1.8 cents per $100 valuation. That’s because one cent of the new rate is being used by the county to pay $543,200 in interest on a $4.8 million loan from First Citizens Bank to finance the county’s purchase of property owned by the Beaufort Regional Health System.