Appraised property values in South Carroll increased 28.1 percent over the last three years, exceeding the state average for reappraised properties.
The rise in the value of land and buildings means South Carroll property owners will be paying higher tax bills over the next three years, on the average, unless the county reduces its tax rate.
The increased assessments already have provoked anger among property owners questioning why values have risen dramatically despite a recession and slow real estate market.
Taylorsville resident Bob Logue expressed disbelief at his new assessment at Thursday's Carroll County Farm Bureau meeting.
New Windsor resident Franklin Vleck Sr.placed an ad in a local newspaper urging county residents to appeal assessments that have been "obscenely increased" and threatening a tax revolt.
Appraisals are based largely on nearby sales of similar properties. Even though the market has "stabilized" in the last year,properties still are selling for considerably more than they were valued three years ago, explained Larry White, supervisor of the Carroll office of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
The office takes into account sales for 1989 and 1990, while also comparing 1991 activities to the new assessments. Sale prices for 1991 have exceeded the reappraised values in many cases, White said.
"We're not arguing that the market hasn't declined, but the values haven't reduced; it's a fact of life," he said, noting that a one-acre lot in Carroll that sold for $25,000 three years ago could fetch $70,000 today.
The state average for property value increases is 21.1 percent, or 7 percent per year.
The department sent new tax assessments Dec. 27 to approximately 18,000 South Carroll property owners. The office reassesses taxable property once every three years, with one-third of the county reassessed annually.
Tax bills for the next three years are based on the revised assessments. To avoid an exorbitantone-year tax increase, the reassessed values will be phased in incrementally over three years.
The county has set a 10 percent cap on annual increases in property tax assessments, the maximum allowed by state law.
Elected officials determine whether residents will pay more or less in property taxes, regardless of how much assessments might have increased, by setting the tax rate.
At the current $2.35-per-$100 county property tax rate, residents whose property value went up by the average 28.1 percent will see a 9.4 percent increase in their property tax bills for the next budget year, which begins July 1.
To raise the same amount of revenue from property taxes next year (fiscal 1993) as the current year (fiscal 1992), the county tax rate would have to be reduced 18 cents, says the assessments office. Thereduction would offset the assessment increases.
Carroll's property value increase is the ninth highest of Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore.
Carroll's increase was the highest in the Baltimore region, exceeding Baltimore City (11.8 percent), Baltimore County (19 percent), Anne Arundel (27.5 percent), Howard (17.6 percent) and Harford (20.7 percent).
Values increased by 34.6 percent for reappraisedproperty in Westminster, Taneytown, Uniontown, Middleburg and Union Bridge election districts last year.
Property owners have until Feb. 10 to appeal their new assessments.