Remember the Orange Tax Revolt?
Hundreds of people crowded meetings months ago to protest Orange County's revaluation. They said the new assessments were too high for a recession and would lead to higher property taxes.
Some 5,000 taxpayers appealed, four times what the county had seen in prior revals. Many assessments were lowered, but overall, the county said the assessments were accurate. The new values fell in line with what area homes were actually selling for.
Last week I sat down with Mark Zimmerman, a Realtor and columnist for the Chapel Hill News. Mark believes we will see a resurgence of Tax Revolt in September when the county mails out property tax bills. Why? Because, as we've reported, revenue neutral -- a term by which the county says it will generate the same amount of tax revenue as the year before revaluation -- doesn't mean revenue neutral.
As we reported even the county commissioners were stunned to learn real property tax bills will rise under the revenue neutral rate to make up for declines in other taxable property. The average property owner will see a $159 increase in his or her county tax bill. But Mark has done additional research for a column running Sunday that shows just how much tax bills are increasing throughout the county.
Since Mark is a Realtor, I asked him what motivated him. I mean, higher property values mean higher commissions, right?
"I think [revenue neutral] is a Trojan horse that allowed them to raise [tax] rates without having to say they effectively did so," he said. "People are going to get their tax bills, and I think people are going to fall off their chairs."
As much as Realtors trading in high end properties might benefit, Zimmerman said he does not want to see Chapel Hill become a Greenwich, Conn.
"There are people who are not going to be able to live here who made this a place people want to live in."
Read Mark's column Sunday in The Chapel Hill News.