by Sarah Curry
Director of Fiscal Policy Studies
This morning the Winston-Salem Journal reported Forsyth Representative Ed Hanes is going to introduce a bill to keep the 2008 tax values in place until 2016. He claims this will help the lower income populations of Forsyth County whose property values fell during the recession maintain value of their homes. News Flash! This only affects people if they want to sell their property. For everyone else – it will keep inflated property tax high until 2016.
Coincidence that four weeks ago the same newspaper reported the city of Winston-Salem is expecting an $8 million shortfall as the result of property revaluation.
“…a countywide revaluation of property, is expected to reduce city property-tax revenues by about $8 million…. properties that have lost value — about 9 percent — will see hardly any change.”
The true story of events is that property revaluations started, budget shortfall is expected and now a bill is introduced to avoid the budget shortfall by keeping property taxes artificially inflated.
The Winston-Salem mayor claims the government needs to help people protect the value of their home. Recent home sales in the Triad have been below assessed tax value due to the recession, so the artificial inflation of home prices does not help anyone if they want to sell, it only helps the city avoid a budget shortfall that had been anticipated for four years since the last revaluation. The argument used that this avoidance of revaluation will help the lower income homeowners is a complete fallacy; they won’t see a change, because most of them pay little to no property tax due to their income tax bracket.
Legislators need to quit doing the dirty work for the local politicians. The city of Winston-Salem knew this recession affected housing prices, and they knew they were scheduled to revalue property in 2012/2013. This was not a surprise and could have been anticipated, instead the city continued to spend at pre-recession levels and created an $8 million shortfall that is unfortunately going to be filled with tax increases instead of cutting unnecessary spending.