DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Commissioners is going to have a hard decision this year on whether to raise tax rates in the county, if estimated values of property fall during revaluation as expected.
Tax Director Mike Hargrove said yesterday that preliminary figures indicate that the overall values of property in the county are expected to fall by more than $100 million as a result of this year’s revaluation.
“The numbers won’t be firmed up until we get through the appeals process and get the final numbers on business values,” he said, noting that they could be slightly higher. “But I think that (the numbers) we’re seeing now are going to be pretty close, barring any major changes in the commercial property values, which should be coming in this week.”
Property values are used to guide the Board of Commissioners as it sets the county’s tax rate, allowing the commissioners to have a clear picture of how much money they can bring in through property taxes.
Currently, tax officials are in the process of hearing appeals that have been submitted by homeowners. This year, more than 30 homeowners in the county have filed an appeal to their property valuation.
“We’ve already adjourned from taking on any more appeals, but are still working on the ones in the pipeline,” the tax director said.
Hargrove said the stagnant real estate market over the past several years has hurt values in the county, especially business and commercial property values.
“The commercial property value had to be pulled back due to the loss in value as a result of the market, and that was a huge portion of the decrease in overall property values in the county,” he said.
The tax director estimated that 65 to 70 percent of the decrease in overall property value in the county is the result of decreased commercial property values, with the remainder the result of decreased residential property values.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that homeowners will see property tax rates increase next year.
“Some areas didn’t see a decrease in value at all, it just depends on the location,” he said. “The overall values went down, but in some cases you could have areas that went up.”
Hargrove said that the Board of Commissioners will have to make the decision on whether to raise tax rates, a decision that is often based on multiple factors.
“The overall values are going to be down, and using the current tax rates throughout the county, that could mean a loss of about $750,000 in tax revenue,” he said. “But that is going to be a decision that will have to be made when all the facts are in.”
Hargrove said officials will have a clearer picture of the overall commercial property value in the county the first part of next week.
The commissioners are expected to take up the issue in the next couple of months as they set the 2012-13 year’s county budget that begins on July 1.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.