Scotland County North Carolina Property Taxes on the Rise

Many Scotland County North Carolina property owners are opening mailboxes to discover a ‘Notice of Real Property Assessed Value’ increase.

The good news is: Your property is growing in value (at least, that’s what the Assessor says).

The bad news is: higher property tax bills are on the way.

How is it that properties are growing in value when the County’s economy remains in the toilet, population demographics continue heading south, and as anyone who has been trying to sell their property knows, buyers are scarce as hens teeth, causing continued downward pressure on already depressed prices.

How did the Tax Assessor determine that things are so rosy as to cause valuation increases?

Let’s see if we can sort this puzzle out.

Licensed, certified real estate appraisers determine property values by analyzing ‘recent comparable sales’. This methodology has long been considered the ‘gold standard’ by real estate professionals when it comes to accurate price/valuation discovery.

Scotland County appears to be using a different method, that of determining how much money highly paid county officials, hangers-on, grifters, relatives, friends, cronies and other parasites need to continue cushy lifestyles, schemes and scams, and then raising taxes enough on the poor to cover this ever growing, seemingly insatiable need.

County Commissioners have options when it comes to matching expenses with revenues:

  1. Downsize government to match the present reality (just like homeowners and businesses must do to avoid insolvency).

  2. Reduce waste, fraud, graft and corruption sufficient to balance expenses with revenues.

  3. Increase Sales Tax Rates.

  4. Increase Property Tax Rates.

  5. Increase Assessed Valuations on ‘select’ properties sufficient to grab enough money to fund the present bloated, outrageous situation.

None of these options are perfect, but some are better than others as far as County Commissioners are concerned.

  1. Try downsizing government and every public employee, spouse, child and pet will be at your doorstep screaming bloody murder.

  2. Try reducing waste, fraud, graft and corruption and ruling elites will be at your throat.

  3. Try increasing the Sales Tax Rate and angry voters could vote it down and you out of office.

  4. Increase the Property ‘Tax Rate’ and you could have a populist rebellion on your hands.

  5. Increase Assessed Valuations on ‘select’ properties… this is the one that can be counted on to get the job done without setting off too many alarm bells.

Fiddling with individual ‘select’ property valuations especially if done on a ‘rotating schedule’ makes it difficult for property owners to figure out what’s happening, and is all but impossible to fight. How many folks know that while their assessed values increase, those of wealthy ruling elite’s somehow stay the same or even decline? 

This ‘shell game’ effectively transfers the problem from elected politicians (County Commissioners) to individual property owners and to a lesser degree, the Assessor.

Property owner wrath can easily be deflected from Commissioners to the Assessor. All Commissioners need do is express extreme sympathy for your plight while explaining that this wasn’t their doing, but rather the Assessor’s decision, and you’ll need to vent your grievance over at the Tax Collector’s Office. Pretty slick slight of hand, hey?

Property owners can of course dispute increased valuations, but the cumbersome, bureaucratic process and slim odds of success discourage all but the wealthy from trying.

Commissioners refusing to deal with problems, instead, dumping them at the Tax Collector or other agency doorsteps isn’t a new game; it’s tried and true.

Anyone who has stood in line to pay property taxes knows lots of folks are having trouble paying current tax bills, and the last thing needed is to now owe even more. Times are tough, many of our friends and neighbours are hurting.

County officials make tons of money and fantastic benefits, and many don’t even live in the county, so increased property taxes doesn’t mean much to them.

Voters recently told County Commissioners they’d had enough when they voted down the proposed sales tax increase, but Commissioners didn’t get the message and are now increasing tax collections by going through the ‘back door’.

This may seem like an innocent game of cat and mouse, but there are real consequences for us, our county and our future.

Every dollar paid in taxes, fees and licenses means less money in our pockets for house payments, rent, car payments/repairs, insurance, clothing, food, education, medications, utilities, dining out, etc.

Less money spent at local businesses means fewer local jobs and less revenue paid into county, state and federal coffers in the form of taxes.

Trying to hide tax increases by selectively raising property valuations may fool some, but it doesn’t fool most prospective property buyers. When buyers determine property taxes are too high, they simply stay away or adjust the offering price downward to compensate, making it even harder for sellers to receive prices they can live with, prices that will allow them to achieve escape velocity from Scotland County.

Scotland County Commissioners have created and are now perpetuating an extremely dangerous ‘negative feedback loop’ that is drowning us in bonded debt, onerous property taxes, sales taxes and fees which discourage shopping or investing in the county.

Is it any wonder that out of 100 counties in North Carolina, Scotland County comes in dead last in virtually every category?

A County Commissioner’s job isn’t easy, nor was it meant to be. If you don’t have the courage, time or inclination, or if you’re just too lazy or uniformed, then maybe it’s time to vacate the office.

Related Articles:
Scotland County EDC – Blood Sucking Vampire?
Hollowing Out Rural America
Economic Warning to U.S. – All Dominoes Fall the Same (video)
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