Property tax rates will be rolled back next year in Hamilton and Bradley counties to offset the increase in tax assessments in existing properties since the last countywide reappraisals four years ago.
On Monday, the state Board of Equalization certified a new county property tax levy in Bradley County of $1.7084 per $100 of assessed property, or 9 percent less than the previous rate of $1.8721 per $100 of assessed value. A similar cut is planned for properties in the city of Cleveland, which will drop its certified rate from $1.7655 rate to $1.6091 per $100 of assessed property to offset higher property values since the last reappraisal in 2013.
"As the economy has come back, property values have increased over the past four years, which is far different than in our last reappraisal [in 2013], when we actually saw an average decline in property values over the previous four years for the first time," Bradley County Assessor Stanley Thompson said Monday.
Across Tennessee, property values have grown nearly 10 percent, on average, since 2013, according to the property reappraisals completed in 22 of the state's 95 counties this year, including Hamilton, Bradley, Sequatchie and Franklin counties in Southeast Tennessee.
Under Tennessee law, increases in the value of existing properties don't automatically increase property taxes paid since any increase in assessments of existing property must be offset by a drop in the tax rate.
The amount of the property tax rollback in Hamilton County won't be set until later this month or August. Hamilton County Assessor Marty Haynes said Monday that the final county Board of Equalization meetings finished Friday and he hopes to soon send information to the Tennessee Comptroller's Office, which oversees the state Board of Equalization, which hears appeals from county boards.
Haynes said the value of all properties in Hamilton County grew, on average, by 10 to 11 percent since the last reappraisal in 2013.
The new certified rate for Hamilton County's tax levy and the new rates for each of the 10 municipalities in Hamilton County has yet to be set and certified. County commissioners have agreed not to raise property taxes for the 2018 fiscal year, so the county levy will be rolled back about 10 to 11 percent from the current levy of $2.7652 per $100 of assessed value.
"We hope to send our completed values to the state probably on Wednesday and to have an answer in 10 to 15 days," Haynes said.
Despite the gains in property assessments since the last reappraisal in 2013, the number of property owners appealing their assessments was one of the lowest on record this year.
Among 146,000 residential properties reappraised this year in Hamilton County, only 285 residential property owners appealed their county appraisals to the Hamilton County Board of Equalization this year, county assessor Marty Haynes said Monday.
"I've only been here 10 months, but the folks we have in our office who have been here for many years say that this was one of the smoothest reappraisals we've ever had," Haynes said. "You are never going to make everywhere happy or avoid any misunderstandings, but for the most part we feel like we've represented the fair market values of the county."
Four years ago, when property values, on average, didn't increase from their 2009 levels in Hamilton County, 331 residential property owners still appealed their assessments, or 16 percent more than the number of appeals this year.
Eight years ago, the last time property values were adjusted higher on most homes, 1,460 appeals were made to the county Board of Equalization, or more than five times as many appeals as the number filed this year.
In Bradley county, Thompson said only about 20 of the nearly 50,000 residential properties appealed their assessments to the county Board of Equalization — the fewest number since Thompson was elected as the county's assessor in 1992.
"All of our data is online if someone wants to look it up, so I think people can see we try our best to accurately assess what each property is worth," Thompson said. "Hopefully, more people also understand that an increase in your property appraisal does not automatically increase your property tax. The tax levy is set by the county or municipal elected officials and the increase in property values alone can't generate more money for local government."
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.