County Assessments Up 18.7%

Two weeks after the discussion on, Peter Savodnok has a story in the Progress about Albemarle County’s sharp increase in the assessed values of homes. In 1997, assessments increased by 2.3%. 3.5% in 1999. 12.8% in 2001. This year? 18.7%. The Board of Supervisors blames the rising cost of real estate in the area. Some citizens are calling for a tax cut to keep the dollar value even. As the Charlottesville area becomes a more well-known and desirable place to live, is it possible that we could be priced out of our own homes? What’s the solution to this problem, both short-term and long-term?

9 thoughts on “County Assessments Up 18.7%”

  1. Replace the leadership at the state and local level.

    At the state level, they block alternate funding options that would let local boards use funding sources other than real estate taxes.

    At the local level – they’ve artificially inflated residential prices by insisting on absurdly large lots, limiting subdivision and limiting growth. The slow-growth crowd is creating an artificial shortage that increases value beyond reason.

    Also at the local level, they’ve set up rules and zoning which discurage, if not actually block, industry which would bring in additional taxes.

    Maybe this is what the majority of the residents of the county want, they keep reelecting the no-growth folks. If so, they should stop whining about the tax structure.

    If it doesn’t represent what the county residents want – if they want jobs, if they want realistic housing prices, if they want industrial taxes to supplement residential taxes, it’s time to change the county board in drastic ways. Elect members who will solicit rather than discourage business, and push for state legislative changes.

  2. If people are willing to believe that their homes will sell for three times what they paid for them a few years ago, then they should be willing to be taxed for that amount.

    If you feel like you are being scammed, you probably are.. but not by anyone local. It is a much larger problem then that.

  3. "They keep reelecting the no-growth folks?" You’ve got to be kidding. The only person on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors who, in my opinion, could even by described as slow-growth, let alone no-growth, is Sally Thomas.

    Consider: Albemarle’s population has doubled since 1973 to about 87,000 residents. If the current pace of growth is maintained, the county would add 40,000 residents, the number – now living in Charlottesville, in the next 17 years.

    It’s been observed that Albemarle is growing faster than India. The 740-square-mile county’s population growth rate is 2.1 percent a year, according to the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. India, with one out of every six people in the world and a population larger than 1.03 billion, has an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent, according to ASAP. The group lists the state of Virginia’s growth rate at 1.3 percent a year, the same rate at which the earth’s human population is growing.

    If you think small lots and more subdivisions will mean lower taxes, think again. The costs imposed by such development on the community exceeds the tax income.

    As for me, show me a no-growth advocate ready to run for the Board of Supervisors, and they’ve got my vote.

  4. Once is not customary, but some stats would be valuable in this case. That is, to compute all final sales prices between the years, divided by the number of sales. Granted, there could be anomalies, like the sale of very large estates (i.e. Kluge), but by suppressing the over million dollar transactions, for example (?), we could compare the average property values between the years.

    This would be valuable backup information to either contest or validate the hikes.

  5. Regardless of what the real values are, the County HAS to take into account what residents can afford. Just because my house doubled in value yesterday does not mean that I can afford twice as much taxes. The value is only POTENTIAL income, and has not generated any tangible beneift for me whatsoever at this point. So with these taxes you are essentially being taxed on money you COULD have someday. Nice.

    It’s inconsiderate to the tax base to watch with greedy eyes and gouge cash from our wallets with wild abandon. Some families who own their first home could have trouble keeping up with their monthly payments with their taxes rise several times more than their incomes rise each year. This shows an alarming lack of sensitivity to Albemarle’s less wealthy residents.

    If values really are going up, and I am sure they are, then plan for a graduated, reasonable assessment increase plan. Also, the County should keep reisdents advised of future assessment increases. It’s not like they just woke up a couple of weeks ago and noticed that values had risen. They monitor the trends year round, and could provide some notice of such a large increase. It’s just a nice thing to do.

    I am fourtunate enough that I can afford the tax increase, although I am certainly not happy about it. But I can easily remember 5 or 6 years ago when a $20 a month increase in rent was a big deal, especially when coupled with the doubled water rates, State Farm jacking up homeowners insurance rates 100%, etc. All these things add up to a not-insignificant amount after some time.

  6. Well, I agree completely.

    My point was to assess our government’s official arguments. What you are suggesting requires changing laws: IMO, it is not reasonable to think we can count on reasonable and fair action from authorities unless they are bound by something else than personal honor (which is all too often TOTALLY ABSENT today).

  7. I hemmed and hawwed over the increase in my real estate taxes, until I sold my house and laughed all the way to the bank.

  8. If people are willing to believe that their homes will sell for three times what they paid for them a few years ago, then they should be willing to be taxed for that amount.

    It’s just not that simple. I know for a fact that my house could sell for many times what my family bought it for 16 years ago. That’s great, if we wanted to sell our house. However, we don’t. And we’re certainly not of the income bracket that could afford what the house would go for now. So despite the fact that we own it free and clear, we’re unsure whether we’ll be able to keep it just because the taxes on it are increasing by leaps and bounds every year and approaching the point of simply being unaffordable. That’s what Waldo means by “being forced out of our own homes”, he meant it quite literally.

  9. That’s right! This is precisely why taxes on property is not the way to go. It requires every homeowner to "play" the market, by planning the property purchase over the long term, sometimes even over several decades, as it may be with your family.

    Guess what? Once again, it’s the lower income folks that can’t "play" this game, not if they don’t want to be uprooted every 5 years of so.

    When Americans, even low income Americans, trumpet how ‘superior’ our system is, I say "history is not over". Granted, "Laisser Faire" has been wildly successful for the U.S. until the 80’s for some, and all the way up until 2001 for the majority. But the problems we are currently witnessing, from corporate corruption to historic levels of (real) poverty, are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Anyway, back to the topic, consumption tax does not require average folk to "play" the market, allows people to match their expenses to their incomes, and it makes it much harder for the wealthy to dodge taxation (i.e. the greatest form of welfare we have today: multi-million dollar tax ‘evasion’ on mortgage interest deductions).

    For example, if the family is having a momentary hard time, it can keep their home (pretty much the same costs as when they purchased – and budgeted for – it), can afford non-taxed food essentials, but will hold off on that DVD player. At the same time, the wealthy WILL be taxed on that 7th DVD player in the exercise room, no matter how large their mortgage (and especially interest) payment.

    It’s fair, it’s predicable and it works (in much of the rest of the modern world)!!!

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