As a Union County resident, I find the recent rumors county commissioners may consider rescinding tax revaluations for 2012 deeply troubling, particularly considering that our county ranks among the top 10 in the state for inflated valuations that miserably fail to accurately reflect current values.
The county didn’t hesitate in adopting a four-year reval in 2008 when property values were artificially overblown. Now that the bubble has burst and values have normalized, it should adhere to the same four-year cycle and give its citizens the same consideration in 2012 it gave to its coffers in 2008.
I purchased our family’s home new, directly from the builder a year ago and was subsequently greeted by a tax bill valuing our home at a pie-in-the-sky figure nearly $80,000 over our purchase price. The result was an additional $75 in monthly expense.
I got a nominal reduction via appeal and am able to make cuts in my budget to handle this burden, but I know of several residents in similar situations who don’t have that luxury.
The present economic reality is as follows:
• Union County has an unemployment rate in the neighborhood of 9 percent. Since government calculations drop discouraged workers off the rolls after a finite period of time and then pretend they no longer exist, the true unemployment number probably runs well into the teens.
• Median incomes are down, as those who have found work have often taken salary reductions.
• Foreclosures are soaring, largely as a result of the first two items.
If the county elects to cancel 2012 reassessments, it is tantamount to ignoring economic reality. Proceeding with the revaluations and then turning right around and hiking the tax rate to remain revenue neutral is equally absurd, as it too ignores economic reality and amounts to nothing more than a shell game.
When we, as individuals, suffer a reduction in income (via unemployment or any number of other financial set backs), we cut back out of necessity and adjust our spending accordingly to make due with less.
It is only right that our government does the same. This means if tax receipts are reduced by 8 percent after homes are revaluated to accurately reflect their values, then county government spending needs to be reduced by a commensurate 8 percent.
Cuts are painful and will surely mean reductions in services. This is the very reason why towns like Monroe stubbornly oppose the reval. But austerity measures are part and parcel of financial belt tightening and living responsibly within one’s means, be that entity an individual citizen or a government.
I encourage everyone to e-mail their county commissioners and urge them to do what’s right by proceeding with revaluations for 2012.