Woodfin – It’s been an emotionally and physically challenging year for most people due to the pandemic. The difficulty has not only been emotional but financial too. In addition to those challenges, Buncombe County and several municipalities in Buncombe are planning to raise property taxes on its citizens. Ouch!
According to Buncombe County Board Chair Brownie Newman, after the reevaluation of property values, a neutral rate would be 46.8 cents. Yet, Buncombe County Manager Avril Pinder recommended a tax rate for county residents of 48.8 cents per $100 of property value.
Nearly all of the towns in the county are also looking to take advantage of the reevaluation. Even the Town of Woodfin, known for having some of the lowest taxes in the county, is taking benefit of the higher property values. Their tax rate is at 33 cents per $100 when revenue neutral would be 30.1 cents.
The surprising part is that all of these government entities are getting millions of dollars in free money from the “American Rescue Plan” from the federal government. Now, it’s true that those funds can only go to certain COVID-related costs, but such a sizable sum can still account for other areas of concern.
It seems these government entities are doing a disservice to their constituants by increasing the amount of money residents will be paying on their property. In the county’s case, according to reporter Leslee Kulba’s article on page 4, this increase will garner an extra $9.5 million in property taxes. In Woodfin’s case, it will garner an extra nearly $300,000 (see article page 6). In addition, Woodfin may be on the verge of getting an extra million in property tax from The Bluff’s development and another two million from the “American Rescue Plan.” Now you’re starting to talk real money.
Let’s not forget Woodfin’s new Town Administrator, Eric Hardy, is a product of Buncombe County and the Asheville City governments. Hardy worked for the City of Asheville for about three and a half years, then for the county for the last six years before joining Woodfin government in July 2020. Hardy is familiar with working with bigger budgets. Now, it’s looking as if he intends to help Woodfin with a larger budget as well. However, it would do Hardy and the commissioners well to remember that Woodfin is Woodfin for a reason. It didn’t want to be part of Asheville and its big government and big budgets.
The Town of Weaverville just had a public hearing (at which no one spoke) on their budget for the 2021-2022 year. The town is taking a revenue-neutral position on their taxes to help hold the line for the taxpayers of the town. It will be interesting if any of Woodfin’s residents show up at the June budget public hearing to talk about the tax amount increase for the Woodfin budget. A tax increase of nearly 10 percent for residents who are just trying to recover from the economic effects of a global pandemic should warrant some reaction, one would hope.
Woodfin residents prefer their taxes low and their government small. Following Buncombe and Asheville’s example could come back to bite Woodfin Commissioners at the polls and eventually, bite Hardy. A word to the wise should be sufficient.