Guilford County commissioners like for people to know that they didn’t raise the property tax rate in the new 2023-2024 fiscal budget.

What they don’t really care to make people aware of is the fact that the Democratic-led board gave property owners in the county a giant 14-cent “hidden” tax increase in the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget. That’s because the board failed to lower the rate to the “revenue neutral” mark after a countywide property revaluation that assessed housing and other property values at much higher values than the previous ones.

Since the Board of Commissioners left the tax rate where it was after an historic revaluation for 2022-2023, the county now gets north of $80 million a year of new revenue from county property owners who saw their tax bills go up dramatically this year – even while the tax rate remained the same.  However, the board is already spending that money and more – so it will need more in the future.

In that regard, Guilford County government recently got what some commissioners may think is good news. The chance to put in another hidden tax increase will come a year earlier than previously thought.

Even though property values went up tremendously in the 2022 revaluation, Tax Department officials later learned that they did not – based on real estate market data from actual property sales – raise those values enough.  So, the State of North Carolina is forcing Guilford County to conduct a revaluation in 2026 – rather than in 2027 as the county had scheduled.

In a recent work session, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said that he wanted to make it very clear that, just because the special revaluation will take place, doesn’t mean there will be a property tax increase that year. He said the commissioners might compensate by reducing the tax rate when property values come in higher in that revaluation.

But that’s easy to say now.  It may be harder to say when the special revaluation takes place.

Anything is possible, but in each of the coming years between now and 2026 the county’s annual debt obligation on the $1.7 billion school bonds will increase and, based on the past two years, there will be more employees to pay and more raises for those employees, more capital projects and a host of other moves by this Board of Commissioners that loves funding just about every proposal it hears from county staff.

So, the possibility of quicker hidden tax hike could be good news to county officials – but it might be bad news for taxpayers.