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Property reappraisals induce sticker shock
May 09, 2005 12:00 am
May 6, 2005
The value of the average Wilson County home has increased 24 percent over the past six years, leaving many feeling something akin to sticker shock as they receive notices generated by the county's reappraisal program.
"Property values in Wilson County have just skyrocketed over the past six years," Property Assessor Jimmy Locke said Tuesday.
The countywide reassessment which takes place every six years has created a flurry of phone calls to Locke's office, where he said "informal hearings" will be held through May 12 for those "with questions about the reassessment."
Though the increases property owners are receiving seem jaw-droppingly large – one local resident said the value of his home jumped $37,000 – they won't necessarily translate into equally hefty tax bills, officials said.
Locke and County Mayor Bob Dedman pointed out the state will use the reappraisal to set a certified tax rate for the county which will bring in the same amount of revenue generated during the last fiscal year.
"The tax rate will be adjusted down so that it will bring in the same amount we got in property taxes for the last year," Dedman said.
Though County Commission can then readjust the rate upward or downward – after holding a public hearing – Dedman said the mood among squires should calm those feeling panicked by increased property appraisals.
"From what I'm hearing from the County Commission, nobody's even talking about any kind of property tax increase," Dedman said. "From everything I've been told, I just don't see them going for any kind of tax increase at all."
The current tax rate stands at $2.97 per $100 of assessed value for most residents. Those living in the Lebanon Special School District pay a tax rate of $3.40 per $100 of assessed value.
Dedman said property taxes brought in approximately $50,200,000 in revenue last year.
The countywide reappraisal is conducted every six years by the Tennessee Division of Assessments as way for officials to adjust property values based on "fair market value," Locke said. Those who wish to formally contest the reappraisal can appear before the Board of Equalization starting June 6, the property assessor said.
Residential homeowners aren't the only property owners looking at larger assessments, according to information compiled by Locke which showed industrial property values increasing by 19 percent and commercial properties by 23 percent. The assessed value of farms was the largest overall increase, at 39 percent. However, the number of farms in Wilson County has dropped by a full percentage point over the past year, the figures show.
The sheer number of residential parcels assessed has increased significantly over the past year as well with 38,432 parcels now on the assessment rolls, compared to 37,278 a year ago.
Locke said the reappraisal program was instituted by the state to "assure that all taxpayers are treated equally."
"It's mandated by the state, not us, and it's not optional. Everybody in the county has received, or should be receiving, a new reappraisal notice over the next week or so."
Although county commissioners are expected to forego any type of property tax increase, some will find themselves paying larger bills when tax notices are mailed in February as a result of the reappraisal, Dedman said.
"Because the tax rate probably won't increase isn't to say that some people won't pay a little more, because some will," Dedman said. "Mine went up nearly $25,000."
The county mayor said he believes the increased values can be attributed to more than just a local boom home values.
"Land is what's really gone up a lot around here," he said. "And then there's a lot of things we don't really think about sometimes, like the cost of building materials going up, all of that can play into it."
Locke said he can sympathize with those who felt a surge of sticker shock upon getting their reappraisal notice.
"Mine went up on me by $27,000 for a house and a lot," he said. "There's just really nothing you can do about it."
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at email@example.com.