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Should the City of Charlotte raise Property Taxes?

Should the City of Charlotte raise Property taxes?   18 members have voted

  1. 1. Should the City of Charlotte raise Property taxes?

    • No - They are wasting too much money.
      5
    • Yes- The prosperity of the city is at stake.
      11
    • Like it matters, I don't live in the city
      2

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33 posts in this topic

The bills are coming due.

It appears the Charlotte city council may approve a recommended 4.5 cent rate hike to the city property tax. This is being advertised to pay for some specific items in order to drum up support for its passage, but it ignores the fact that everything the city does comes out of the same pot of money and its not clear these items would be paid for anyway. (and something else cut).

Also proponents for the tax are claiming the city tax rate has not been raised in 10 years, but it ignores the fact that the city consolidated much of its operations with the county and services that used to be paid for by city taxes are now paid for by county taxes. (and re-imbursed to the city). Lots of doublespeak as we all know that county taxes have been raised significantly during the same period. And it also ignores the effects of revaluation.

In any case do you support the tax increase?

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In any case do you support the tax increase?

Absolutely not.

Tax rates per $100 in value are going up. Yet property values have also generally risen in the past few years, so the total tax paid for a piece of property will be higher than just the tax increase by itself would indicate.

I have to live within a carefully-considered budget, and I can't increase my spending too much every year. Government should do the same.

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NO - Mainly for the reason, as Metro mentions, that they really insult our collective intelligence by trying to sell the 'we haven't raised taxes in 10 years' spin. That may be a "fact", but its purposefully misleading. If government was just more transparant and upfront with people I'd be a lot more willing to trust them with more money.

I would have liked to see a presentation that highlighted the other parts of the equation beside the rate -- increase in home value, population increase, services no longer paid for in their budget, etc. You'd think with steady appreciation, population growth and the correlating economies of scale, each new household in the service area should help lower the individual burden - not raise it.

I also don't understand this entitlement government has given itself. Too bad we can't just visit the money tree every time we can't afford the utility and grocery bills because we ran out and bought a new car and a 50" widescreen. That's the other spin -- this is to pay for police and roads and cute little puppies and world peace; certainly not wasteful, inefficient spending on any luxury projects.

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Whats the average Charlottean's annual property tax bill?

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Tax rates for the city have remained constant, even as the county increased them. Real taxes have gone up during reassessments, though, as values have changed. Values have changed because real income has risen.

If your income hasn't changed, then perhaps you should take advantage of publicly funded CPCC, or the publicly funded library to get some new certifications or skills to actually have your income keep up with inflation.

If your income has met or exceeded inflation increases, why is it a problem for the tax rates to rise a little to keep up with inflation?

Local taxes are spent in a way that benefits us as citizens vastly more than state taxes, and those are vastly more beneficial to us than the federal taxes. I'm not a proponent of dramatic increases or wasteful spending. But the very fact that the city has gone through the exercise of freezing the tax rate for a decade means they have cut significant fat from the budget. So why not let them raise it a bit this year to pay for capital items that actually have a return on their investment, like transportation?

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First, I have an Ivy League doctorate. I don't need the additional training described above to help my income. How does insulting others add to this discussion?

Second, property tax collections have already risen at a rate much higher than the inflation rate recently. The currently property tax rate is 42 cents per $100 of property value. My property's value has risen at about 6% per year during the last few years, according to its tax assessment. Thus the taxes I have paid have already increased at well above the rate of inflation. As Charlotte's population has increased significantly in recent years, overall property tax collections have likely soared at a rate much higher than the rates of inflation and population growth. Why shouldn't government keep its spending in line with inflation and population growth rates? Now the proposal is to increase tax rates to 46.5 cents per $100 in value. The taxes I will be paying will thus increase at well above the rate of inflation.

People can discuss whether or not taxes are a good use of societal resources, and there are arguments to be made in favor of and against such a use, but if tax rates go up we will possibly see these two results:

1. People will live outside Charlotte-Mecklenburg, in lower-tax areas, rather than inside, in some cases; and

2. Societal resources will be directed away from private-sector investment; the money I use to pay property taxes would otherwise go to my bank account and various types of investments that would help private-sector companies create jobs, invest in R&D, increase various types of capital investments, etc.

Are 1 and 2 both good outcomes? I think not. If you think that the use of societal resources in the public sector outweighs 1 and 2, you are certainly entitled to your view; I disagree, though.

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I don't see it as whether or not I can afford the taxes - unlike the government, I'll have to work it into my budget as an expense and make the appropriate modifications elsewhere. And as with many things, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

When rates go up, I have to call into question the government's financial stewardship. I just can't take a fear-based argument such as "this is so we can hire enough police officers so that no one will break into your house and kill you." Which often tends to be the subtle message. Or, a slippery slope argument such as "well, its not as expensive as _____". To a degree, every governmental body in the country can use that one.

A rising tide should lift all boats -- as more people move here, and as the basis on which they're calculating the tax (property value) rises, and new commercial properties continue to be added to the tax base, and city expenses are shifted to the county budget, and efficiencies are found to lower the cost of providing services (!), there should be a correlating increase in the city's financial resources. Why can't growth expenses (which should be a declining per-household trend) be calibrated against their growing annual revenue? Aside from inflation costs, which should keep pace with higher property valuations and new properties, why is it more expensive to run the library this year instead of last year? Shouldn't the taxes of the tens of thousands of people who moved here last year help offset that? Why are we paying more for the same level or declining services?

I'm all for being reasonable though. If they show how they've been good stewards; and that they've prioritized expenses based on essential needs and projects that would be cheaper to pay for now, rather than pay exponentially more for later (e.g. lightrail now instead of more roads later); and add in some solid reasoning behind how they got in this situation (the increase in the cost of services took them completely by surprise, for example); I wouldn't begrudge a rate increase.

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dubone's point was that just as we all pay more for goods and services as the cost of living goes up, so must government. How much has healthcare for a police officer, firefighter, city planner, or sanitation worker increased? How much more do building materials cost for road maintenance, or gasoline for city-owned vehicles? Both involve petroleum products.

As for raising your taxes in previous years, the State of NC requires local governments to reassess propery taxes every eight years to keep up with the REAL value of property as costs rise. I don't like it any more than anyone else, but I know after living in the Northeast and in California that I still have it FAR, FAR better than they. All in all, this is a cheap place to live.

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Those points are certainly valid.

I am fine with having my property reassessed so that it's taxed at its accurate value. I'm also fine with having government spending rise in line with inflation and population increases.

But I just see government spending to be excessive in many cases if it and tax collections rise at a much higher rate than the inflation rate and the population growth rate; Charlotte's per-property property tax collections are already rising at a far faster rate than the inflation rate because the values of those properties are rising generally a lot faster than the inflation rate. The property tax rate increase will result in this.

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dubone's point was that just as we all pay more for goods and services as the cost of living goes up, so must government. How much has healthcare for a police officer, firefighter, city planner, or sanitation worker increased? How much more do building materials cost for road maintenance, or gasoline for city-owned vehicles? Both involve petroleum products.

As for raising your taxes in previous years, the State of NC requires local governments to reassess propery taxes every eight years to keep up with the REAL value of property as costs rise. I don't like it any more than anyone else, but I know after living in the Northeast and in California that I still have it FAR, FAR better than they. All in all, this is a cheap place to live.

Right, but don't just lump it all in to one fuzzy equation where the answer is unquestionably - we need more. I just have a hard time believing for all the ways they get more and more money each and every year (with new properties added to rolls) and huge kickers every few years (as valuations jump) that the government's "cost of living" increases can't be met.

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I am totally for government investment, and reasonable expenditure on core government responsibilities. Beyond that, I believe in avoiding taxation and keeping money in the private sector. Roadways more than pay for themselves in economic generation.

I get a little bit confused by the party line that always opposes all tax increases, no matter how tiny they are, and no matter how infrequent they are, and no matter what those increases actually fund.

A home with a $200,000 tax value (which is usually more like a home with an actual value of 250 or 300k) will have a tax increase of $7.5 per month with this proposal. I have a belief that practically everyone owning a $200,000-$300,000 house is not likely to even notice a 7 buck increase in their escrow payment. So many other expenses go up and down by much more than that, like food and utilities.

I did not intend to insult anyone by my flippancy, though. I do, however, understand the philosophical opposition to tax increases, in general. But I guess I have an exception for a well managed core city budget, where increases are primarily going to government investments.

Almost all regular city property taxes go toward Fire and Police. The rest of the general fund, from other revenue sources fund bond payments on capital needs, like roads. For me personally, I really don't like the county raising taxes, because most of its funds don't benefit me in any way. It also funds the school system, which I believe wastes money on excessive overhead, rather than focusing on core expenses (buildings, books, and teachers). But with the increase going to funding for police, fire, and capital improvements like roads, I am for this specific tax increase.

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I'm fine with a lot of tax increases. But the rising value of my house already results in a tax increase well beyond the inflation rate. Increasing the tax rate, on top of an increase in the amount on which the tax is being based, is just too much. Even if the increase in the tax rate by itself is minor, that's yet another tax, when added to what all I pay, is just too much. I am responsible with my money; government should be responsible with it too.

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So far in this thread it looks like there is a lot of flustered and frustrated people lacking information. I highly recommend everyone going to charmeck.org and checking out their city budget page. You can read the 190+page manager's recomeneded budget as well as some FAQ. The FAQs page I found to be really helpful and will excerpt some it here:

When was the last time the City raised the City property tax rate?

In 1987, the City raised the property tax rate to begin a "Pay-As-You-Go" program for infrastructure projects (versus funding the projects through debt financing).

Why do my property taxes increase, if the City's tax rate hasn't been raised since 1987?

Two reasons: First, Mecklenburg County has raised its property tax rate 3 times just in the past 5 years and 9 times since 1987. The tax bill property owners get shows the total amount of the property tax owed - both City and County.

Second, if the value of your property has increased significantly, your taxes went up when your property was revalued EVEN THOUGH the City Council rolled back the tax rate to make the tax impact neutral for City residents. What does that mean? Basically, the City tax rate is reduced by the same amount the new valuation generates in revenue.

For example, the property revaluation process in 2003 resulted in growth of the City's assessed valuation was estimated to grow by more than $9 billion. Prior to revaluation, the City's tax rate had been 46.7 cents. After revaluation, the rate was decreased 10%, to 42 cents, to make sure the City wasn't taking in more revenue than it had before the changes. If your property value grew by more than the average, your taxes did increase.

Why is a City property tax rate increase recommended for this year?[

The City can cover current services, including higher costs for them, without a rate increase. The increase is recommended because some problems are becoming too great to ignore without seriously and negatively impacting the economic health and livability of the City.

The additional revenue would pay for new police officers, needed road improvements, revitalizing neighborhoods, and increasing the availability of affordable housing. No one wants to pay more for anything, especially if they don't see additional value from the higher cost. In this case, the new money will pay for new services-services to meet increasing demands and to fix problems with the public infrastructure that the City hasn't had the money to address.

Public Safety: 0 .75

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I had forgotten about the revenue-neutral revaluations. I guess that scuttles that argument. I'm even more for this change than I was before. :)

I actually wish the county could get a little less and the city a little more as I think they are much more sound with their budget management than the county is. That is just my impression, though.

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I'm not so sure I'd be quick to say that a $200K assessment is common on a house that sells for $250-$300K. Maybe in a fast rising gentrified area like Midwood, that happens.

If anything, I'd say the assessments are a little aggressive when they're completed. (No real surprise there, since they take place about every 4 to 5 years.) But by the end of the cycle, they're falling behind the market.

The assessors do a fairly good job overall. I don't see many contested assessments succeed.

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That might be the case. I guess I'm mainly familiar with inner ring neighborhoods, within a few miles from uptown. I know the tax value on many uptown condos are less than their original sales price, even many years beyond. I also know that many NoDa houses that sell for 250-350k still have a tax value of less than 100k. I assumed both of those were exceptions, but thought it was fairly common for tax values to lag by ~25%.

I'm not even joking when I say this, maybe the city should just do a blitz to put correct valuations on the properties rather than raise the rate. I guess they let the valuations lag in order to not force out the long-standing residents who might have more issues.

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Re-assessments create unpleasant contact with the public... Yeah, I doubt it would cost that much to have the assessors go "nip and tuck" the tax base. But then the councilmembers would get more phone calls, and they don't want to deal with more whiners, than they already have to. :)

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But is it easier to defend a more accurate valuation on specific buildings than doing an across the board tax hike? I really think we need the roads and the police, so I want the city to get the revenues, but if there are less controversial ways to get that, then why not try. Does the state law only allow for reassessments every 8 years, or can the localities go more frequently?

I personally would be for a graduated tax rate, where the central zone (I mean that zone roughly within Rt 4) has a slightly larger tax rate to pay for improvements the only go in the city core. It would help to reduce the whining by more tax sensitive suburban people who perceive that they are subsidizing downtown, which isn't really the case, especially not after gentrification, densification, and revitalization.

Or maybe if the state goes ahead with its .25% sales tax cut, Charlotte could simply keep its existing rate. Sales taxes are pretty much voluntary taxes, and go down when people have less disposable income, so they are much less controversial than property taxes.

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Does the state law only allow for reassessments every 8 years, or can the localities go more frequently?

Counties are free to revalue the property more frequently if they like. This has happened in Mecklenburg when they performed the 2003 revaluation. The one prior to that was just 5 years prior in 1998. Basically revaluation is a way to perform an stealth tax increase. BTW, revaluation decisions are a matter of county and not city politics.

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The above info re: Charlotte city taxes is good and valid- let's also keep in mind that COUNTY property tax rates went up by 10.6% recently. That's why I am irritated- a county tax hike followed by a city one, regardless of prior tax cuts.

http://www.news14charlotte.com/content/top...ies/?ArID=95084

http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/new...e_breaking_news

One quote I agree with:

"Some residents say any increase is too much. Mecklenburg County adopted a 15 percent tax increase in 2001 and an 11 percent increase last year; a 2003 property revaluation also raised bills for most homeowners."

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I know what you are saying mallguy, but at the same time, how can the city be held liable politically for the county's mismanagement? The county increase was just nuts last year.

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Actually if you look at the county's budget, CMS makes up a huge portion of it. Everytime we get a bond referrendum, that is a note that allows the school system to go out and borrow money, and they have done lots of it over the years. I am only aware of two bond votes for CMS failing in the last 20 years. They have notes they are paying on worth billions.

When people vote for these things I don't understand why they don't think taxes are not going to be used to pay them back.

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After reading all of your posts, I'd actually like to change my vote. I was all for the increase of property taxes at the city level as that benefits us the most as stated by dubone. However, I have a different opinion. Instead of increasing property tax in Charlotte, they should collect a city income tax instead. You could charge less per person and still acquire more money because this would include those in the suburbs who use our roads and facilities and then skip back to their home with a picket fence where property taxes are much lower. Plus, if it's money that never makes it to your pocket, you are less likely to miss it.

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Note that I am for buildings, books and teachers. I'm fine with the bond referrendums. What I can't stand is knowing that much of the $1B CMS budget goes to wasteful software programs, downtown overhead and bureaucracy. There is significant waste in the county's budget as a result of CMS, and bond payments for school construction isn't it.

Bonds are a good way of building something now but paying for it over time. It is good to use bonds for things that will cost much more to do in the future, will generate economic returns, or when the need is immediate.

But yes, bonds do need to get paid back with tax money.

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Instead of increasing property tax in Charlotte, they should collect a city income tax instead. .....

This idea has actually been floated several times over the last 3 decades that I have lived here. I think the last time however that it got serious attention was when Harvey Ghantt was still mayor.

In North Carolina, cities are not free to create new taxes, such as a new sales tax or income tax, without specific approval from the North Carolina legislature. This means that before a tax like this can be created in Charlotte, it has to be voted on by members from all 100 counties in NC and signed into law. The Charlotte city council can then decide to vote it in once this occurs.

Now the NC Legislature usually doesn't not give approval for these type of things unless there is a almost 100% support for it from the local legislators. In this area this includes legislators from all of the suburban areas so it's not likely that you will see this happen. Charlotte has a history of beating up on its immediate neighbors (as seen in the Legislature) and they won't approve new taxes for the city unless almost everyone agrees. It might be easier to pass a county income tax, but even that would be difficult.

Oh and collecting another income tax is an expense for business. If something like this every got passed expect the counties in SC, Lancaster & York, to step up the campaign for Charlotte business to move across the line into low tax SC. They have already had some success at this.

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