Montgomery County Considering A Real Estate Tax Increase

Montgomery County wants more money.

The Board of Supervisors is considering a $.04 increase in real estate taxes on properties throughout Montgomery County, and as usual people are upset about it.  I’m not saying they shouldn’t be – anytime my bills go up I’m not terribly happy about it.  And real estate tax increases always seem to happen after reassessments … the municipality looks at what they’re collecting in taxes, and what they could be collecting with the new assessments (in this case, about $2.7 million), and it becomes only a matter of time before they go up again.  I mentioned in August 2009 that Montgomery County was doing reassessments, and that residents should be prepared for an increase, so perhaps you’re not surprised.  It happened in Radford, as well … and in Pulaski County, which says a tax hike could save two schools.  It’s nothing new.

County administrators have said the 4 cent increase is a way for the county to raise revenue to maintain most of the county services, while also offering continued funding to address school and public safety needs. It would bring in $2.7 million in additional revenue to the county.

Is an increase in the real estate tax necessary?  My feeling is that it is.  These taxes go to fund any number of public services that each and every one of us use nearly every day; things like roads, and emergency services.  Yes, I know the cost of living continues to rise everywhere, but it’s likely that the cost to run these services also continues to rise.  Who should bear that cost?  Should there be balance?

Give me your thoughts – what do you think of the proposed increase (which is being voted on April 20th)?  Should it be implemented?

Updated 4/9/10 10:33am – Sean sent this link in … seems that Americans don’t want to pay for the services they receive.  My sense is that we cut spending and raise taxes, but I understand that that’s not a favorable position on either side, sometimes.  Oh what to do?

17 thoughts on “Montgomery County Considering A Real Estate Tax Increase

  1. cheap lawyer

    At its final voting session on the growth policy for 2007-2009, the Montgomery County Council voted to enlarge blow taxes, insist new school and transportation adequacy tests, and enhance the recordation tax. New revenue from the recordation tax improve will go towards rental assistance programs and County Government capital projects like roads, police, and fire stations. A motion was made to hold off on the recordation tax legislation until the Council begins budget deliberations in May, but finally failed. In the final version of the recordation tax enhance that was approved.

  2. Jeremy_Hart

    You know what, Gary? That's a great idea; how helpful would it be to hear from someone who does these on a daily basis to explain exactly how they arrive at their conclusions.

    See the updated link in the post above, as well.

  3. Jeremy_Hart

    You know what, Gary? That's a great idea; how helpful would it be to hear from someone who does these on a daily basis to explain exactly how they arrive at their conclusions.

    See the updated link in the post above, as well.

  4. Jeremy_Hart

    You know what? That's a great idea.

    See the updated link in the post above, as well.

  5. Jeremy_Hart

    Thanks for the comment, Gary – yes, I'd guess that the assessor works for the county that's doing the assessment. What's the alternative, however? The County hires a third party, who then goes and hires an assessor, who then goes back and does work in the County? I understand the point, but in reality it doesn't work. We're having that issue with appraisals right now – the bank goes to a middle man, who hires an appraiser, who then goes and does the appraisal. They might be based in NC and doing appraisals all the way up to Roanoke, however (no, that's not an exaggeration), so there's no likelihood that they know anything about the market they're appraising. It's caused a huge red tape nightmare, and the same would happen with assessments. I'm not saying it shouldn't be looked at as a conflict of interest, just saying that I don't know what the right balance is.

    Gary, let me play devil's advocate … assume a County has 25000 tax parcels. Is it the responsibility of the County to draft an explanation to the owners of all 25000 parcels exactly why the rate is being increased $.04? What a bureaucratic nightmare – not to mention the added cost of employee time, supplies and postage, would likely far exceed any gain from raising it $.04. So what's the alternative? In my opinion, it's move – if I don't like the taxes that go to support the people who support and protect me, than I should go somewhere else.

  6. The Gary Cope

    I'm not opposed to taxes, but if they're going to increase the assessment on a property, they should explain why. Surely when they visit a property, they know what the previous assessed value is and if they increase it, there has to be a reason. They can't simply pull a number out of thin air. I think we need to do a video of a ride-along with a county assessor and have them explain the process. Perhaps this will help us all better understand.

  7. The Gary Cope

    Is it safe to assume that the assessor works for the county? If so, how is that not a conflict of interest? Property values are down all over the place, yet assessments go up? Maybe I'm missing something, but this clearly seems like a conflict of interest if the assessor works for the country. Naturally the higher value they assess a property, the more taxes the county will collect.

    As a former volunteer firefighter and EMT whose department depended on local tax dollars, I understand and support taxes to support necessary public services, however, it must be done fairly. To jack up assessments without explanation in this economy and hope homeowners do not contest them is irresponsible and deceitful governing. If an assessment goes up on a property, it should be the county's responsibility to explain in detail the reason.

    Again, if I'm missing something, please let me know.

  8. Jeremy_Hart

    Have you ever fought the reassessment, Lisa? I see your point, absolutely, but what were the justifications for the 2-year, 20% increase? Did you add on, or make major modifications?

  9. Jeremy_Hart

    Good point, Sally – that was alluded to in August when I wrote, but now's as good a time to point that out as ever before. Real estate assessments are NOT always accurate – they can be disputed, and they should always be reviewed. Don't just assume the assessor did a good job, they're prone to errors just like the rest of us.

  10. Sally

    Public services are necessary. Yes, we pay for them, but we ARE fortunate to even have access to them. I'm perfectly fine with a rate increase to continually improve public services.

    My issues are with the INCONSISTENCIES and INACCURACIES of the actual tax ASSESSMENTS. This is where the system fails the public. If the average homeowner were to go to and review tax assessments for their home in comparison to their neighbors, there would be an outrage. However, unfortunately, most are unaware of this information. Maybe this is what you should be promoting…

  11. Sean

    I don't mind paying more to keep public services available. Prices for everything eventually go up and it's human nature to have a negative knee-jerk reaction. We all know we pay taxes but rarely do we know exactly where that money goes.

  12. Jeremy_Hart

    That might be the more dangerous approach, Charlene, having to decide which ones we can't live without. Emergency services, like fire, rescue and police? Schools? All are important …

    Thanks for commenting, come on back!

  13. Charlene

    I agree with Jeremy. We all expect to be provided with certain services, and these services aren't getting any cheaper. If we don't keep up with the costs for these things what's the alternative? Will we be forced to decide which ones we can live without?

  14. Lisa

    THAT is my issue. The tax increase, yeah, whatever. But the assessment is my issue. For example, we purchased my home in 2005 for $152,000. That was its assessed value. (Long story) When the house was reassessed (2007?) it was at $189,900. I laugh. We would be lucky to sell it for that much.

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