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Cornelius News

Property taxes more than likely to stay flat in 2022; reval next year

Photo by Jason Benavides

Jan.11. By Dave Yochum. It’s looking like a multimillion-dollar budget boost—due to COVID-induced belt-tightening and under-estimating town revenue—will keep a lid on possible property tax increases in 2022.

“Based on all of my early meetings with town management and our new board members, I’m pleased to report that citizens can expect NO tax increase for our next fiscal year,” said newly re-elected Commissioner Dave Gilroy.

Hardly anyone wants to pay more in any kind of taxes. Property taxes can add up fast on a typical $300,000 home.

The local tax rate (.222) on a $300,000 property is $666 a year. Mecklenburg County’s .6169 tax rate means the $300,000 homeowner pays another $1,850.70. The owner of a $900,000 house—there are more and more of them—pays three times as much.

Revaluation in 1 year

With a revaluation on the horizon, it matters: Mecklenburg County has officially moved to a four-year countywide revaluation cycle, with the next one slated to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The problem, though, is that the town’s fund balance or savings account has more than $30 million earning 0.2 percent per year for Cornelius taxpayers—while inflation is running at 6.2 percent.


“This means that our citizens are earning a negative 6 percent annual yield on taxpayers dollars the town has stockpiled with the intention of spending many years from now, if ever,” Gilroy said.

It equates to a “somewhat tragic” $1.8 million annual cost to Cornelius citizens in real terms, the 14-year commissioner said.

Taxes are meant to be collected annually by government to pay for essential public services in the current year or very near term.

“It is never appropriate for government at any level to collect taxpayer dollars many years, in Cornelius’s case 5- to 10-plus years, before the money will be spent,” Gilroy said.

Road projects ahead

Normally, the money is rolled into the town fund balance/savings account and finds its way to road projects—but they’ve been delayed by huge budget shortfalls at the NC Dept. of Transportation.

Some $100 million in road improvements are on the books, with the town footing the bill for $40 million, according to Commissioner Denis Bilodeau.

That said, there’s no telling how much West Catawba widening will actually cost, given inflation in the construction industry.

Budget discussions getting under way

All this gets sorted out in the coming months, starting with budget discussions and the annual Budget Retreat at the Graylyn Estate and International Conference Center in Winston-Salem. Two days of intense discussions with elected officials and senior town staff are set for March 30-31.

—The town is sitting pretty financially: There’s also roughly $8 million in unbudgeted American Rescue Plan funds from early 2021 that have not been spent.

On Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 6 pm, the Town Board will give residents an opportunity to provide feedback on the FY23 Operating Budget early in the budget preparation process.