Real estate assessments are up a much as 40 percent depending on where you live. Local boards may reduce the burden by lowering their tax rates, but a Charlottesville councilor is discussing another idea.
When NBC29 talked to city councilor Kevin Lynch Wednesday, he said we can expect to see a decrease in the property tax rate this year but he's concerned about whether it will be fair. Lynch says in the last five years assessments have gone up about 16 percent for residential homes, but only about 8 percent for commercial businesses.
Lynch is looking to the state capitol for changes.
Lynch says allowing cities and counties to tax businesses and homes differently would help offset the latest round of rising assesments. "That's something that we're trying to address right now within the General Assembly to allow to have localities like Charlottesville tax commercial and residential properties at different rates," stated Lynch (D).
Lynch says residential assessments are going up at twice the rate of commercial properties and forcing people out of their homes. But former Republican city councilor Rob Schilling says it's a bad idea.
"I think that is a preposturous idea. Kevin Lynch wants to set a two-tiered assessment level in the city of Charlottesville and what that is going to do is drive businesses out of the city. We want to attract businesses to the city because we're already at a competitive disadvantage with Albemarle County. I think it's a terrible idea," said Schilling (R).
Still, Lynch says that split rates for commercial and residential properties would allow folks to more easily stay in their homes and allow for a much larger tax rate cut.
"Last year, we did a six-cent decrease across the board, which if we could have targeted just to the homeowners, which is the group that saw the greatest increase in their assessments, if we had just targeted to that section of real property we could have given them an 18-cent decrease and kept commercial and residential where they are," explained Lynch.
Schilling says that with the budget surplus the city experienced last year, residents could have seen more tax relief even without the two-tiered system.
"I did some math on that and it appears that with a $10 million-surplus we could have cut the tax rate another 20 cents," said Schilling.
Regardless, the surplus could still help city residents this year.
"Certainly when we run surpluses that does allow us to decrease the taxes in the following year but we just have to make sure we do that in a sustainable way," said Lynch.
Lynch says he also favors a tax deferral program. The program would allow residents to defer paying a portion of their taxes until the property is sold. Council already has the authority to do that.
He also says the two-tiered approach to tax rates is gaining statewide support and is something that could pass in this General Assembly session and benefit tax payers this year.
Here's a look at assessment jumps and current tax rates for some other localities:
Orange County skyrocketed with a 25 percent increase in property value. Not far behind in value are Greene County and Fluvanna County at 24 and 21 percent, respectively.
Many jurisdictions say they will consider lowering the tax rate to offset assessment increases but no one could say for sure.