The Guilford County Board of Commissioners currently has a 5-to-4 Republican majority but, with three seats on that nine-member board up for grabs in the current election, the board could have a Democratic majority soon – as it did for 14 years before the Republicans took control of that board in 2012.
Local politics in Guilford County isn’t nearly as divisive or partisan as national politics – the Board of Commissioners very often reaches unanimous decisions – but there is one area where there has been a stark contrast between the two parties in this century: property taxes.
The Republican-run Board of Commissioners, which was elected in 2012, has never raised taxes. It hasn’t always been easy, but the board has simply refused to raise property taxes under any condition – much to the chagrin of some county staff who would like to see more revenue coming in for some staff supported projects.
The Republican board has lowered property taxes in three of the last eight years – for a total reduction of 2.54 cents per $100 of assessed property value. (The Republican board also reduced the tax rate during a property revaluation year to avoid a hidden tax increase caused by the rise in property values.)
The last eight years have been quite different in this regard when compared to the first part of this century.
Democrats took control of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in 1998 and held power until 2012. In the 2001-2002 budget, the board raised the tax rate 3.7 cents. Two years later, in the 2003-2004 budget, the Democratic-majority board handed the county’s property owners an increase of 3.93 cents. In the 2004-2005 budget, after adjustments were made for the countywide revaluation of property that year, the Democratic majority board effectively raised taxes 1.5 cents.
In the 2005-2006 budget, the commissioners added a 2.44-cent increase and followed that with another 1.87-cent tax increase in the 2006-2007 budget. The Democratic board, in the following year, added another 2.99-cent increase.
In the 2008-2009 budget, just months before the economic collapse, the Democratic-majority board added 4.6 cents to the tax rate, and, in the 2011-2012 budget raised taxes 4.5 cents. In the 2012-2013 county budget, under the Democrats, there was finally a cut, effectively a 1.35-cent reduction once another countywide revaluation was factored in.
For someone who owns a $200,000 house in Guilford County, that 24.18 cents per $100 of assessed value amounts to over $480 in added property taxes annually.
No one can predict how a future Board of Commissioners will vote on property taxes, regardless of the makeup of the board, but if the past is prologue, then it might offer some indication.