Mecklenburg County administrators aren't expected to release the revenue-neutral estimate until Tuesday. But the Observer estimates the county could lower its property tax rate by about 6 cents and raise the same amount in revenue as before, plus a bit of growth as allowed by state law.
How did we get to that number? See our work by clicking here
A bit of background: the state Treasurer's Office provides a spreadsheet on its web site to help counties and local governments calculate what the revenue-neutral rate will be. It asks for the total assessed value for the years in between revaluations, along with the current tax rate and estimate of the new post-reval tax base.
The Observer completed the spreadsheet using assessed valuation figures compiled in the county's annual financial audits, the estimated tax base and tax rate for 2010-11 as included in the budget adopted by commissioners last June, and the current projections of what the new tax base will be.
The result was an estimated revenue-neutral rate of 77.95 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The current rate is 83.87 cents.
State law requires local governments to publish a revenue-neutral rate after each revaluation. Elected boards can either use the rate in their new budgets, or set a different one.
The key to figuring out the rate is knowing the size of the new tax base. Currently, that estimate is $110.8 billion, which assumes about a 6 percent drop in the value of real estate as appeals to the recent revaluation are heard.
But the tax base includes more than just the value of real estate. It also includes the assessed values of personal property, state certified property and registered motor vehicles.
The tax base estimate is bound to change in the coming weeks, and so will estimates of the revenue-neutral rate.
Still want to learn more? The School of Government has a report that further spells out how revenue-neutral rates are calculated. Read it by clicking here. -- APRIL BETHEA, firstname.lastname@example.org