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Forsyth Co. property tax rate could increase

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Forsyth County Commissioners learned today the county is facing a nearly $17 million shortfall, thanks to projected drops in property value.

County staff told the commissioners in a workshop this morning, the county is expecting a $16.8 million dollar shortfall because it appears overall property values have dropped nearly 10%.

The county is in the middle of reappraising property values as part of it's 4 year revaluation process.

In order to keep county revenue similar to years past, the county commissioners are faced with either making drastic cuts to county services or raising the overall tax rate.

While for many home owners that would not mean a huge change in their tax bill, for those few whose value did go up, it could mean a sizeable increase.

"I think we will have to do a combination of things and it will not be pretty," said County Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt.

Whisenhunt says no one likes to hear the words tax rate hike, but, "I don't think there is enough cuts that we could cover the $16.8 million, I just don't."

County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon says he doesn't see how making that many cuts as realistic either.

"If we don't raise taxes moderately and we have to cut from the sheriff's department for example, well we already have slowest response time in state among urban counties."

The current tax rate is 67.4 cents per $100 in value.  Even to remain revenue neutral, meaning keep homeowners paying about the same amount this year, the rate would have to jump to 73.7 cents per $100 value.

Going revenue neutral will still leave a gap of about $4 million.

Commissioners have many more meetings to discuss the shortfall and say at this point, everything is on the table.