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Durham County Moves to More
Frequent Reappraisals

by Kevin Baker, Atlanta, December 2016

 

Officials in Durham County, North Carolina have decided to reappraise property every three years rather than every eight years beginning in 2019. It's an effort to reduce the sticker shock that taxpayers feel seeing their values double, triple, and in some cases, quadruple over an eight year period.

 

Reducing Appeals

 

Durham County Tax Administrator Kimberly Simpson explained, "All of a sudden you get this tax value that has increased by 300% and you don't understand why 300% just happened. And you feel like you are not going to be able to pay the taxes because of that increase." With more frequent reappraisals, there won't be this kind of sticker shock and the appeal rate should go down.

 

Most counties in North Carolina have moved to shorter appraisal cycles. Simpson actually wanted Durham to move to reappraisals every two years but her staff said it's too much work to do on the ground reviews of Durham's 110,000 parcels in that time period.

 

Following Market Trends

 

Simpson says the main advantage of moving to a three year cycle is that appraisers are able to recognize market changes within a shorter time period. This helps disperse the tax burden more fairly.

 

She gives an example in Northeast Central Durham where properties were valued in 2008 at $60,000 to $70,000. They were being sold as unrenovated property for $110,000. After they were renovated, they sold for $340,000. So while these properties were under assessed during this time period, others made up the difference and in many cases overpaid their property taxes.

 

Updating property values more often won't necessarily mean that taxes will go up or down. It's up to the City Council and County Commissioners to set the tax rate. This year, Durham County 's tax rate was revenue neutral and the city raised taxes 1.66 cents over the revenue-neutral rate. Revenue neutral doesn't mean taxes will remain the same. It's the overall county as a whole.