New property values present challenges for city, county boards

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 25, 2001

Lincoln County Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordan toldsupervisors recently that overall Lincoln County assessed propertyvalues have “skyrocketed” to over $200 million.

Totals won’t be final until July, but that’s great news –unless you happen to own one of the estimated 3,800 parcels thathave seen a more than 50 percent increase in property value. Foryou, chances are pretty good you’re looking at a tax increase laterthis year.

Overall, the higher values present county supervisors, cityaldermen and local school boards with a balancing act to perform asthey prepare budgets for the new fiscal year that starts inOctober. School boards presented their new year budgets at publichearings Monday while city and county officials will work on theirspending plans this summer.

The balancing act is to lower the tax levy, expressed as amillage rate, enough to offset the increase in assessed valuationof property and bring in sufficient funds to provide necessaryservices. With both city and county budgets tight this year andseveral pressing needs facing officials next year, it’s animportant numbers game for aldermen and supervisors to play.

Further adding to the budget mix is a new state law passed thisyear that increases the homestead exemption credit for regularhomeowners and the special homestead exemption amount for seniorcitizens and the disabled.

While many people will see some benefit from the new law,homestead credit reimbursement funds from the state are notexpected to increase. Funding could even down depending on thenumber of exemption applications filed.

Therefore, revenue lost to the homestead credit will have to bemade up somewhere else, such as from automobiles, commercial orother forms of property. As a supervisors’ association officialsaid recently, the homestead bill represented a tax shift, not atax cut.

A state-mandated county-wide property reappraisal is in thefinal stages. Property rolls with new land values will be open forpublic inspection next month.

We encourage citizens to take an interest in the new totals.Those totals and board-set millage rates will play big roles indetermining how much property taxes you owe this year.

Keep in mind that while citizens and officials may be proud ofthe higher numbers in July, it’s the numbers on the tax bills inDecember that hit in the pocketbook.