Carroll Land Values Up 34.6% 3-year Increase In Five County Districts Is Just Above The State Average

December 12, 1990|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

Appraised property values for five Carroll election districts increased 34.6 percent over the last three years, just above the state average for reappraised property, state figures show.

The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation in Carroll sent the new appraisals to about 16,000 property owners in the Westminster, Taneytown, Uniontown, Middleburg and Union Bridge districts this week.

The increased assessments could mean higher tax bills for residents of those areas and increased revenue for municipal and county governments, depending on fiscal 1992 tax rates.

If the county's tax rate remains $2.35 per $100, residents whose property value increased by the average 34.6 percent will see a 9 percent annual increase in their tax bills in each of the next three years, said a taxation office spokesman.

The total tax increase over the three years would be less than 34.6 percent because the percentage of a home's value that is to be taxed has been reduced.

Under the current tax rate, the owner of the average $130,000 home, who now pays $1,250, would pay $1,362 the first year of the new assessments and $1,618 by the third year.

The state taxation office reassesses taxable property every three years, with one-third of the county reassessed annually.

Last year, property values in the Finksburg, Manchester, Hampstead and Union Mills areas rose by 45.2 percent, largely because of proximity to Interstate 795.

The increase this year was smaller, partly because the area reappraised is more rural, said Larry White, supervisor of the state's Westminster office.

Carroll's property value increase is the 13th highest of the state's 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Values rose fastest in Cecil County, up 58.2 percent, followed by Frederick, Calvert and Anne Arundel counties, each at just below 50 percent.

Carroll's increase was greater than those in Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties and Baltimore City.

To the chagrin of homeowners in the reappraised districts, the recent downturn in the county's real estate market won't translate into significantly lower property assessments this year, said White.

Appraisers evaluated land and home sales in the reappraised areas between 1987 and 1989 -- years of steady appreciation -- in determining market values.

Appraisers do not make forecasts when determining values.

Also, the slowdown in 1990 has not been drastic, said White.

Real estate transfers declined by 8 percent in the first 11 months of 1990 compared to the same period last year, he said.

"Property is still selling in Carroll County," he said.

Tax bills are calculated by taking a percentage -- known as a "growth factor" -- of the property value and multiplying by the tax rate.

The state has lowered the growth factor to offset rising real estate values and provide steady revenue growth.

A tax reform bill passed by the state Legislature last year froze the growth factor at 40 percent -- down from 40.9 percent this year -- and reduced the cap on annual assessment increases from 15 percent to 10 percent.

The result will be savings for taxpayers, especially those whose property values have increased rapidly.

The tax bill gave counties the authority to set a cap below 10 percent to provide further relief to taxpayers angry over skyrocketing assessments, but not above that level.

Unwilling to restrict revenue further, the Carroll Commissioners set the county's cap at 10 percent.

Several counties have adopted caps below that, including Baltimore at 4 percent and Harford at 6 percent.

Once new values are phased in for fiscal 1992, the county's assessable tax base will expand from $1.83 billion to $1.99 billion.

Assuming a $2.35 tax rate, the growth in assessments would translate to about $3.76 million in additional county property tax revenue.

That figure would be reduced, however, by the 10 percent tax cap and other tax credits.

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