Rumors have been circulating about the possibility of county ad valorem taxes increasing with the arrival of Delta’s Edge Solar Farm. The Carroll County Board of Supervisors wants everyone to know – that’s not true.
Charles Humphries spoke to the board about how the solar farm would be taxed, and asked why the county pays over $200,000 for reappraisal mapping. Tax Assessor and Collector Wilton Neal said citizens of Carroll County have nothing to worry about, their taxes will not increase.
“It’s going to help the county and add value to county, but no, the citizens won’t have to pay more,” Neal said.
He said He explained that when the county begins budget talks, he and supervisors looked at the needs of the county, and that’s what determines the milage rate and what citizens pay. He said the solar farm will have no bearing on any of that.
Neal commended the supervisors for the work they do that a lot of people don’t get to see. But, he does.
“That’s how we set the milage rate, see,” Neal said. “I give all that information to the Supervisors, and they choose what to do with it. But, I think for the job that they have to do and all the flack that they take, they do a really good job and they work real hard. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve seen a lot. They’re a good group of guys.”
He went on to say that the board has worked within its means and not raised taxes or made it harder on citizens, even when they could have.
“There’s probably a lot that they would love to do if they have the money to do with roads and such. There are probably times when they wanted to go up [on the millage], a lot of times when they should have went up and a lot of time that I wished they would have went up, but they’ve done a great job with what they’ve been given,” Neal said.
Supervisor Jim Neill asked Neill to clarify that the solar farm, once construction begins will add assessed value to the county and will not affect the citizens in any way.
“No, no the citizens won’t have to pay anything. It’s going to add $14 to $16 million to the assessed value. But, it won’t affect the citizens at all. It’s going to help us,” Neal said. Right now, the county’s budget is at $13 million, with the possible addition of the solar farm, the county’s value could go to $27 to $29 million, which is a good thing for citizens.
He also asked the reason why the county pays over $200,000 for reappraisal mapping. Neal explained it’s not just reappraisal mapping. It’s mapping, real property, personal property, computer software, costs to make the maps digital.
“It’s not just mapping though, there are several things under there that we pay for,” he said. Humphries also wanted to know why he paid $1300 for 100 acres with two structures on them and over $200 for 70 acres for something with one structure.
Neal explained that the county is broken down into quadrants and yearly, a quadrant is chosen and appraisers go to each site to see if there’s a structure on the land, if the land has changed names, if there have been new additions.
“There has been no one to walk my property in 32 years,” Humphries said.
“Is it gated?” Neal asked, to which Humphries said yes. “Then that’s why.”
“Then how do you do it?” he asked.
“We have our ways,” Neal said.
“Yeah, with drones,” Humphries said. Neal also explained that in August there is a period where public hearings are held and people are allow to come and ask questions of why their home is appraised like it is and more.
“I go to those and a lot of times, I’m the only one there. People don’t know these things,” Humphries said.
“We put it in the paper,” Neal said. “We advertise it.”
Humphries said he saw the breakdown of the entire budget, which he compressed to a spreadsheet and was amazed at what the county pays for and why.
“I never realized that it was so much, not many people realize that,” he said. Neal told him there were public hearings for that as well.
“But, people say ‘Oh, we don’t read the paper and they’re not informed,’” George Johnson said. “So, how do we get them informed?”
“I don’t know,” Neal said. He said he posts it in his office, he advertises it in the paper, and he doesn’t have an answer to why people aren’t as involved as they should be.
“We just need a way to get people to be more involved in these things,” Humphries said.