Several Greensboro city councilmembers at the end of the March 15 meeting brought up the revaluation of property in Guilford County and how that was going to increase the property tax bills.
Councilmembers Hugh Holston brought the topic up first and noted that property values had increased considerably saying, “They are up 30, 40, 50, 60 percent.”
He said, “There are some opportunities for tax relief if you are elderly or a disabled veteran or some other things.”
Councilmember Sharon Hightower spoke about the “tax rate” going up, which is inaccurate. It is the value of property that has increased at present – the tax rate has not increased. She noted, “If you’re not a senior, you don’t get that senior discount or a veteran.”
Councilmember and mayoral candidate Justin Outling said, “Guilford County has a program for tax relief for low income seniors; the city does not.”
He suggested that the city look at a program to provide tax relief for low income property owners in the city.
However, Holston, Hightower and Outling didn’t talk about how the City Council could provide tax relief to all the property owners in Greensboro and is well within the authority of the City Council, which is implementing the “revenue neutral” tax rate for Greensboro.
The state of North Carolina requires that municipalities and counties publish the revenue neutral tax rate after a revaluation. The revenue neutral rate is the rate that would raise the same amount of revenue for the municipality or county as if the revaluation had not taken place. It is not a one-to-one tax bill reduction, since some property increased in value more than others, but it would provide overall tax relief for the property owners of Greensboro.
In 2017, the last time there was a property revaluation in Guilford County, the City Council did not lower the tax rate to the revenue neutral rate, effectively receiving the equivalent amount of revenue as if taxes had been raised by 2.11 cents.
Because the property values increased at a higher rate in the past five years, if the City Council does not lower the tax rate to the revenue neutral point, the city will receive additional revenue as if taxes had been raised by 3 cents, 4 cents or perhaps more.
In 2017, city councilmembers bragged about not raising the tax rate while still benefiting from what was essentially a more than 2 cent tax increase.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan has previously said that she is in favor of adjusting the tax rate because of the revaluation but said she could not commit to supporting a revenue neutral tax rate until more city financial information was available.