Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Does the New Tax Rate Mean to You?

Yes, there's more discussion of the new New Hanover/Wilmington/beach towns "tax rate." Nevermind that "tax burden" is far more important than "tax rate," because tax burden takes area median income into account, and that Wilmington's tax burden is very high.

That's another issue.

What we're talking about now is how the new rate is going to affect people differently across the county. After putting the revaluation off for years, the New Hanover County tax assessor finally found out that the overall decrease for property values was 14% for the county as a whole and 13% in Wilmington.

Yet this doesn't capture the full story.

As we can see from this graphic from WWAY:

Not every area lost value equally. Additionally, "[t]here are some areas, a few pockets, that are actually seeing an increase."

What this means is that in order to stay "revenue neutral" some people are going to see their property tax bills skyrocket, while others will actually see them go down.

Now, I'm not going to get into exactly how much each area will see their bills go up or down (although if I were a professional journalist, who was paid to do this kind of thing, I would.) I'm just going to try to give the broad strokes.

Firstly, the Fire District as far as I can tell is another word for "unincorporated area." There are roughly 100,000 people or so in that area. But the property values in the unincorporated areas fell far less than in the county as a whole. That means that at the bare minimum, they will see their tax bills increase about 6% to make up for the loss to other people's property in the county.

Again, we're not talking rate; we're talking about what will actually be coming out of their wallets.

If you're a property owner in Wilmington and your property actually gained value, your tax bills are going to skyrocket. You'll be paying at least 14% more in county property tax, and 13% more in city property tax. Since the city's and county's property tax rates aren't too far away from each other, you'll have a roughly 27% higher property tax bill.

Then your bill will also go up according to however much value your property gained.

So, as we can see, even if property tax rates are to be kept at a level so they're "revenue neutral" (as if any of our local governments can do anything but expand,) this revaluation is going to put more burden on some people and take it off of others. I can only imagine that the number of people who are hurt by it will far outnumber those who benefit.

The media outlets around here should be crunching these numbers, and not simply say things like "some neighborhoods will pay less on county and municipal tax bills, and others will have to pick up the tab." These are things that affect people's daily lives.

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