06/14/04 — Wayne's tax rate still lower than average

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Wayne's tax rate still lower than average

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 14, 2004 2:01 PM

Wayne County property owners have been grumbling after the last two years of property tax increases.

But a survey of property tax rates finds that the county's tax rate is still the lowest in the area and below the state average.

A hearing on the county's 2004-2005 budget, including the property tax rate, will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the county commissioners' meeting room, third floor, Wayne County Courthouse Annex.

The proposed budget would keep the current tax rate of 66 cents per $100 valuation. That rate equals a tax bill of $528 on an $80,000 home, $792 on a $120,000 home and $1,320 on a $200,000 home. Homeowners are also charged fire district taxes and, if they live in city limits, municipal property taxes.

Nobody will smile while writing these checks, but a survey of nearby counties shows it could be worse.

Greene County has already approved next year's budget, based on an 85-cent tax rate. Lenoir County commissioners have signed off on a 77.5-cent rate for next year.

Duplin County is considering going from 74.5 cents to 78 cents, while Sampson County's rate may rise from 67.5 cents to 70 cents.

Johnston and Wilson commissioners hope to hold the line at 78 cents and 72 cents, respectively.

The statewide average property tax rate this year was just under 67 cents.

To be fair, some facts should be noted in those comparisons.

Wayne County revalued its properties last year and lowered its rate. Counties using older values might have to charge a higher rate. But Sampson and Johnston also updated their values last year.

Also, property owners in some areas make a higher average wage and so are better able to afford a higher tax bill.

Wayne County maintained a property tax rate of 65 cents from 1995 through 2001.

In 2002, as the economy slowed and other revenues dried up, the commissioners raised the rate to 70 cents.

Last summer, the board dropped the rate to 66 cents, but most people still paid more taxes because of the revaluation. The average increase was 22 percent.