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Revaluation Causes Stir In Mitchell County

BY Geoffrey Cantrell And Julie Ball
by Geoffrey Cantrell And Julie Ball on 6/3/01.

BAKERSVILLE - The heated issue of taxes and a recent property revaluation in Mitchell County will be the topic at a rally and meeting of the local chapter of North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Some Mitchell County residents were furious this year when they found out how much their property had increased in value during the past eight years.

"The value of property was inflated in the last revaluation," local organizer Keith Masters said. "We are asking commissioners to revisit that and adjust values to more accurately reflect property values."

The rally is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Mitchell County High School's auditorium.

The local property tax rate is 54 cents per $100, according to the county tax office. The county manager did not return calls from a Citizen-Times reporter.

Mitchell County's tax assessor says he plans to recommend that county commissioners there move to a four-year cycle of revaluation instead of eight years.

"The hope behind that is that it will eliminate a lot of that impact or shock," said Tax Assessor Michael Robinson.

"Anytime you're dealing with the nerve that leads to the wallet, you're dealing with the most sensitive nerve in the human body," Robinson said.

On average, values increased about 48 percent since the last revaluation - a much higher rate than during the previous period.

"Not all areas of the county appreciate at the same rate," Robinson said.

Mitchell County is attracting the attention of more retirees who are buying homes in the area. That's been one factor contributing to higher values, Robinson said.

Citizens for a Sound Economy is a national "grassroots advocacy organization that supports less government, lower taxes and more freedom." According to CSE literature, the group believes individual freedom to compete in the marketplace creates more consumer choices and gives people greater control over what they own and earn.

"Here in North Carolina, CSE has what we call 'the People's Agenda,'" said state CSE director Jonathan Hill. "The main focus is less government, but we also oppose the lottery. A lottery is not a tax on the poor, it is an attack on the poor.

"The state chapter began two years ago in May 1999," Hill continued. "We are non-partisan, non-profit and are locally funded by voluntary contributions. We have no membership fees. We are advocates, (and have) 18,000 members across North Carolina with many in the western end of the state in Mitchell, Yancey and McDowell counties, and some in Buncombe. Many of these members will be travelling to Raleigh on Tuesday to urge the legislators not to implement new taxes."