“They’re Punishing Us:” Longtime Chatham County homeowners say they can’t afford the property tax bill

Dozens of Chatham County residents took sticker shock when they received their latest property tax bill, showing the new value of their property following a county’s revaluation.

While these homeowners understand the growth and the insane real estate market is driving house prices soaring, they say this recent surge is causing trouble for those who have lived in their homes for years.

“I was horrified by mine. This property went from $ 679,000 to over a million, which is a 51% increase in one year from taxation last year. So it’s totally unacceptable to me,” said Roland Cargill.

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He appealed to Chatham County’s increase but lost and is now appealing to the state.

“I’m 76 years old and have a steady income and they have to raise my taxes from just over $ 5,000 to just over $ 8,000. That’s a hardship,” Cargill said.

Cargill is not alone.

Several Chatham Counties living in the northeastern county voiced concern to troubleshooter Diane Wilson about the recent revaluation of their county’s real estate values.

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“My taxes are up 18% and I’m retired with no one to help me pay my bills. So it was a shock to me,” said Cloyse Lassiter, who lives on Highway 751.

Maurice Nunn, whose family has lived on the farmland for more than 100 years, said, “My property tax rate has increased by 20% and that was after I took 1.5 hectares of land. We really can’t afford to pay these higher amounts of taxes. “

Homeowner Jim Cassese couldn’t believe it when he opened his property tax bill in 2021.

“My property taxes went from $ 445,000 to over $ 913,000 because there were no improvements,” he said.

Cassese’s 25-year-old house sits on just under eight acres.

“I live on a gravel road at the end of a cul-de-sac, there is no sidewalk, no city water, no city sewer system, no high-speed internet,” he said.

He appealed to Chatham County’s new value.

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“I asked him to send me how they come up with $ 913,000 and they never sent me anything,” he said.

Cassese recently refinanced and that estimate was worth $ 570,000.

After unsuccessful results on his Chatham County appeal, he appealed to the state, which resulted in a call from a Chatham County attorney.

“We worked a little harder on it and we can bring it down to $ 593,000,” said Cassese. That’s a drop of $ 320,000 from what Chatham County originally revalued.

“I was like, ‘How many other people didn’t do what I did and complain? Displeasure about it, “said Cassese.

A big question these residents have is about the services the county provides.

“I just don’t understand why the big leap is without additional resources,” said longtime resident Ora Horton.

In this part of Chatham County, these residents do not have many of the county services.

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“The only difference we have on this road we now live is that it was now paved and dirty,” said Nunn. “There is no water, gas or internet.”

For many of these landowners, the land has been family-owned for well over 100 years, long before it grew.

Danny Jenkins is one of those residents.

“It’s family land. We have no interest in selling land,” he said.

A total of 17 hectares of land has been owned by the Jenkins family for more than 100 years. The area is divided into three different properties, the newest house is over 45 years old, but that doesn’t stop the drastic increases in property taxes.

“By then, the revaluation was $ 257,973 and that was with the country. When they came back it came down to $ 414,843, an overall increase of 61%,” Jenkins said.

That is only one of his properties, the values ​​of all three properties have increased.

“They are punishing us for not wanting to sell our land. They’re based on what other people are selling it for, ”he said.

Gary Sears and his family are in the same boat.

“I’ve been here all my life and I’m less concerned about the present than about the future. I am worried about the next generation. People just couldn’t afford to keep what we have, ”Sears said.

His daughter Ashley lives nearby.

“My property tax has gone up 38%,” she said.

Not only is she worried about these recent re-evaluations, but what is to come.

“I don’t know how we’re going to continue to live here if this continues,” she said.

Bill White owns two properties in Chatham County. One of them is five acres off New Hope Church Road in northeastern the county, and it says the latest revaluation is up $ 75,000.

“Nothing was done about that,” he said. He appealed and the county lowered him, but he’s still got a $ 57,000 raise.

Amazingly, he lives in his home on the Jordan Lake reservation, also in Chatham County, but his recent home value has not increased.

“It’s actually down 20% from last year, which is very surprising as all homes in this area are selling even more than the asking price,” said White.

Chatham County’s Tax Administrator Jenny Williams said the county paid $ 1.3 million to an outside firm to re-evaluate all 45,000 properties in the county.

“We visited every property with over 45,000 parcels in the district. If they had access to the property, they would go on site and measure every structure that was on the property and take pictures of the houses and they would also speak to the residents when they were there, ”she said.

She said the county hired an outside company to do the re-evaluations because the county did not have the staff to handle this workload.

After each property was inspected, the data for each property was compared with the current property market.

“It’s all based on sales in the area. Market value is what drives the revaluation, and that’s why we need to do a revaluation,” she said.

When it comes to why the value of one property in one county can be different than another, she said, “Some areas just have more growth. Location is key. It all depends on what a financially willing buyer is willing to pay the seller and when the seller is willing to sell. “

Williams said even though these residents live very close to the Wake County line, they don’t use Wake County real estate sales or values.

“We don’t compare ourselves to any other county for two reasons. First, other counties have a different revaluation plan than we do. Also, we don’t know the Wake County’s sales data. We track our sales data through registered documents. We know how many people pay for a property based on the charter stamps paid, “she said.

When asked by residents why their scores are rated so high when they don’t have community services like sewer and water, Williams said, “The majority of our county has no water or sewer -fast internet, which is a county utility is not provided, and neither is most of our county. “

Northeast Chatham County is where growth is exploding. A look at the Chatham County’s numbers shows that the average increase in property values ​​for the county was only 17% from 2020 to 2021, but the area these residents live in saw an average increase of 43%.

“To price the people in this corner of the county, to price them out,” White said.

Residents have the right to appeal against their reassessment.

Of the 45,000 newly appraised properties, Williams says approximately 1,700 appealed, and of those, she says 1,320 lost in value, 335 there was no change in value, and 60 properties increased in value on appeal.

During these appeals, residents must explain why their property is not worth the latest revaluation.

“This is a bulk evaluation and we have to evaluate over 45,000 packages in a day and we are collecting the best information we can based on the time frame we have,” said Williams. “It is not the same as a fee assessment as the assessments are done individually and these appraisers can come to your home. This is why we are asking taxpayers to review your information on our website have it there. Check out the quality we have on your home. Finish unfinished square footage. We rely on taxpayers to find this information. Because we are working with the best information we have at this point in time can.”

Another question many of Chatham County’s long-time residents asked was why can’t property value be frozen for those with fixed incomes who cannot afford to pay taxes on the elevated values?

“We don’t have the authority to do so,” said Williams. “The statutes do not allow you to freeze the value of a property. Now we have exemptions for the elderly and disabled. Now there are age and income requirements for this, but this information is available through our office if anyone is interested.”

You can also find this information here.

Unfortunately, the appeal process has ended for these residents. If you want to dispute the property tax value for the next year, you can do so from January 1st.

Dan LaMontagne, Chatham County Manager, made this statement on the increase in revenue from the latest property valuations:

“Chatham County continues to grow rapidly, as has many areas in the Triangle. The appreciation of residents’ real estate assets is a clear sign of that growth. As local government services grow, so too must local government services to continue offering their programs can.” and services to residents. In last year’s budget, Chatham County created 31 new jobs to keep pace with its growth. The county recently completed the construction and opening of Chatham Grove Elementary School in the northeast of the county and Seaforth High School in the US. We’re also upgrading our emergency services, emergency call center, and modernizing our emergency radio system. These projects are critical to serving our growing community. “

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