Triadwatch on the County Tax Decrease
From Joe Killian at the N&R last week:
At their Thursday meeting, all 11 members of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the roughly $600 million county budget — the first time a budget has gotten full board approval in more than 20 years.
The secret: The board cut about $17 million in budget items not particularly popular with individual commissioners or well-known by the public.
The cuts allowed the board to not only avoid a tax increase, but to enact a small decrease.
From George Hartzman at Triadwatch:
Why did Brenda think she could walk with another $45,000?
Why did Skip let her?
And then a tax cut?
If Brenda and Skip would try the bonus,
why would they have any problem with rigging the property revaluation
to keep everybody fat and happy,
with a shadow tax increase to pay for it
while most are too stupid to have figured it out
like Greensboro’s press corps?
From Killian at the N&R in May:
Last year, the county spent about $24 million from its savings to pay for budget shortfalls.
This year, County Manager Brenda Jones Fox wants to do it again, to the tune of $30.8 million.
But because of a slightly improving economy, including more revenue from sales and property taxes, Guilford is inching away from a savings disaster that many predicted last year.
From Killian at the N&R in March:
In 2004, all land, houses and commercial buildings in Guilford County were valued at $31.8 billion. This year’s revaluation puts the number at $37.4 billion, an increase of $5.6 billion…
“It’s primarily because of new construction between 2004 and now,” Chavis said. “If you directly compare only the property values on the books in 2004 to their property value now, some values increased and some decreased. It’s probably flat. But all that new construction has been a real driving force in the increase we see.”
So, the official story is Guilford County cut $17M and spent $31M in savings to offer a tax cut and ensure the commissioners get re-elected. Except that’s not possible for everyone due to redistricting. On the bright side, the property revaluation should bring in extra income, allowing a property tax rate cut of $2 per $100,000 of assessed revaluation.
Hartzman has been saying the revaluation was overvalued:
While refinancing my home last month, I was required to have it appraised.
The detailed 20-page appraisal stated that my home value is $172,000…
I received my Notice of Assessed Value on March 10
to learn that the county claims the same property
to have a value of $195,200, a 14 percent difference.
I don’t know if the revaluation is too optimistic and neither does George, but there are good reasons, including a subsequent tax decrease, why it might be.
I’ll attribute the $17M in cuts and the $31M spent in savings to political expediency, as they are known facts.
Hartzman infers that Brenda Fox earned her bonus with the tax decrease. That would mean Fox and Chavis agreed on an overvalued approach for a designed outcome, not exactly a tactic with which we are unfamiliar and probably not uncommon. As usual, there’s certainly some smoke here, but no fire. However, I feel Hartzman and Brown at Triadwatch have the right to make their suppositions known to the readers of Greensboro101. Perhaps many of us have problems with the form of their posts, but not including them seems unnecessary. Once upon a time their input was considerable quite valuable.