The long-awaited home evaluations arrived in mailboxes last week — resulting in a ripple effect of panic, worry and surprise in homeowners all over Charlotte.
“I’m shocked,” longtime Wesley Heights resident Colette Forrest said. “I knew it was going to happen. I anticipated it. I’m prayerful that I’ve saved enough for it.”
Homeowners in Mecklenburg County received new tax values in the mail late last week for the first time in eight years. Those values are available at www.meckreval.com.
Forrest saw a 300 percent increase in the property tax value of her home in West Charlotte since the last revaluation eight years ago. On Jan. 26, she posted on Facebook her concern for the sole, fixed and low-income households that may be affected by a higher tax bill based on this new evaluation:
“When will we receive that (tax bill) and what will our tax rate be? I care about how the seniors, low income and fixed income homeowners will pay a high tax bill.”
Mark Jerrell is one of Mecklenburg County’s nine county commissioners, which is the body of people responsible for setting the tax rate. Revenue from property taxes is used for the county’s human services programs such as health, education, welfare, mental health, environment, parks and recreation and social services.
Jerrell represents District 4 and took office in December. He was the first to respond to Forrest’s Facebook thread with information on how the process works. “Keep in mind that it is very clear that an increase in value does not equate to an increase in taxes,” he said in the online post. “The formula that determines what we will eventually pay is complicated, but it is not a direct correlation.”
Jerrell told C5 he had anticipated his constituents’ reactions. “I’m extremely sensitive to the anxiety people are feeling,” Jerrell said. “I want people to really understand that they have trusted us to make sound and wise decisions not based on political ideology or partisanship but based on what’s best for the community. I don’t plan on financing anything on the backs of the poor and most vulnerable.”
As the chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, his goal is to increase the income-eligibility limit from $30,200 for the Low-Income Homestead Exclusion, a program to give tax relief to senior citizens in the county. The City of Charlotte recently introduced the Aging in Place program with a $45,000 income limit, but county residents aren’t included in this plan.
Forrest wanted to give people the right information before they decide to stay in their home or sell it. She wants others to understand the fair market value, use a realtor and take advantage of programs like the Homestead Exclusion and Aging in Place programs. “We cannot do anything about gentrification,” she said. “We live in a capitalist society. As long as people are willing to sell their home, the market will bear the cost and it will be bought. What we can do is ensure that low-income, single income, fixed income, the elderly have the information.”
Forrest is a member of the social justice committee at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church. The committee is planning an event on April 11 called, “The Social Justice in Gentrification”. Panelists will include Ken Joyner, Mecklenburg County Assessor, and Jerrell. Details have not yet been released.
Scott Pridemore with Pridemore Properties, a residential real estate company in Charlotte, fielded phone calls all weekend from recent clients about the new values being higher than comparable sales in the area. He recommends folks in the same situation to file the informal appeal within the 30-day timeline. The Comper tool may be used with the parcel number to find comparable sales for the appeal. The site creates a PDF document that may be mailed or uploaded for the informal appeal process.
A public town hall is set for Feb. 21. It will be a cross-government collaborative event to discuss the re-evaluation process and address concerns about gentrification and housing. City and county officials will be there to address questions. Details about time and location have not yet been released.