Proposed budget: Higher tax bills for most north Mecklenburg homeowners
DAVIDSON – Folks in Davidson who have been working for more than a year to save their branch library were optimistic but still cautious Wednesday, May 18, after County Manager Harry Jones recommended giving the library system an extra $2.27 million in next year’s budget.
At the same time, homeowners across north Mecklenburg were likely getting out their calculators to compute how much more they’ll pay in county property taxes, if county commissioners adopt Jones’ recommendations.
Though Jones is recommending decreasing the current property tax rate, he’s not suggesting cutting the rate enough to offset the increase in taxable value that more than half of property owners are seeing as Mecklenburg assessors revalue all property in the county. The higher assessed value combined with only a slightly lower tax rate, will translate to higher tax bills in north Mecklenburg.
In the average case, the owner of a home that was assessed at $250,000 last year could expect to see his or her county bill increase by about $316 in Davidson and Huntersville and about $268 in Cornelius.
The pressure on commissioners not to raise tax bills remains a threat to supporters of the community library branches, according to Leland Park, who retired as the librarian of Davidson College and serves on the Town of Davidson Library Task Force.
Nonetheless, “this is a happy day,” Park said, because Jones’ recommendation of extra money for the library system would allow system leaders to keep all the community branch libraries, like those in Cornelius and Davidson, open and keep the regional branches, like in Huntersville, operating for longer hours and open for more days a week.
If commissioners don't provide the extra money, the Library Task Force had recommended closing community branches in order to add more hours to regional ones.
Kim Fleming, who served as co-chair for fundraising for the Davidson Library Task Force, isn’t ready to dance yet.
“I’ll cross my fingers until the vote” by county commissioners to keep the $2.27 million for libraries, Fleming said Wednesday.
“We’re thrilled that it’s working out so far,” said Christina Shaul, who served as co-chair for volunteer recruitment on the Davidson task force. “We were feeling optimistic.”
Fleming, Shaul and Park praised county commission Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts and Commissioner Karen Bentley, who represents northern Mecklenburg, for coming to a town hall meeting, listening to library supporters and showing their support.
“I felt a renewed faith in the system,” Fleming said Wednesday. “… All we can do is let our opinions be known. I hope we did.”
But Park and Shaul said library and school supporters must remain vigilant as county commissioners debate higher tax bills.
In the most recent information given to the towns, the county tax assessor’s office has projected that assessed value will increase 17 percent in Davidson, 16.8 percent in Huntersville and 14.8 percent in Cornelius.
As an example, that means a home assessed at $250,000 in 2010 would now have a taxable value of $292,500 in Davidson and Huntersville and $287,000 in Cornelius.
The county property tax bill on that same house was $2,096.75 in 2010, when the county’s tax rate was 83.87 cents per $100 of assessed value.
In his proposed budget, Jones is recommending dropping the tax rate to 82.49 cents per $100 of assessed value. Combined with the increased values in all three towns, that would raise the county property tax bill on that same home to about $2,412 in Davidson and Huntersville and about $2,365 in Cornelius.
Want to have your say?
Residents can comment on the county’s proposed budget Thursday night, May 19, at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, at East 3rd and South Davidson streets in Uptown Charlotte.