If Guilford County voters go to the polls in May and approve the quarter-cent sales tax increase on the ballot, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners plans to reduce the county’s property tax rate by roughly three cents per $100 of assessed property value in the coming fiscal 2022-2023 budget to be adopted in June. 

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said a resolution to that effect will be placed on the agenda for the board’s Thursday, April 7 meeting.

On the ballot in Guilford County in May is a school bond referendum for $1.7 billion, as well as a quarter-cent increase in the county’s sales tax.  That sales tax hike is estimated to bring in an extra $18 million to $20 million in revenue if it passes, and the conditional tax decrease that will be pledged by the board Thursday would be designed to save property owners in the county an identical amount of money. 

Currently, every once cent increase in Guilford County’s property tax rate raises roughly $6 million in revenue, so a three-cent decrease would mean property owners would get a tax cut on their coming tax bills – the first bills to come out based on the 2022 revaluation of all county property. 

In the vast majority of cases, that property value is much higher than it was five years ago – the last time the county conducted a revaluation.

Alston said that, though a property tax hike has been voted down in Guilford County several times before, this pledged tax decrease of three cents – or more – could help get property owners on board. 

“This way, we’re not putting all of that burden on the property owners, “ Alston said. “Right now, it’s all on the property owners, but this would mean that people who live outside the county would share some of the burden.”

He said that perhaps 25 percent of the people paying sales taxes in Guilford County are those who were passing through or who live outside the county and come into Guilford County to work.

“Why not get them to pay too?” the chairman said.

“This is a way to help property owners during the reassessment,” he added. “Let’s all work together on this as ‘One Guilford County.’”

 Over the past year and a half, Alston has been stressing his “One Guilford” theme in an attempt to bring the county, its cities and towns together in several joint efforts. 

Alston, a Democrat, also said he hopes the nine-member board’s three Republicans will support the move and he added he thinks they may since they typically favor lower taxes.

Alston said county staff is still fine tuning the language of the resolution that the board is expected to pass Thursday night.

“The resolution will state that, if the sales tax increase passes, the board will reduce property taxes by three cents – or it might be a little bit more,” he said.  “It makes it a wash with the sales tax revenue, but it shifts some of the burden off of the property owners.”

Alston said he’s hopeful that the pledge will lead property owners to vote to approve the sales tax increase since it will mean a lower property tax bill.

Even with a three-cent decrease in the county’s tax rate, Guilford County government will still get tens of millions more in property tax revenue than in previous years due to the dramatic increase in property values from the 2022 revaluation.