Shelby County had a better than usual growth in its property tax base this year, according to assessed value figures reported by Property Assessor Melvin Burgess’ office.

The certified tax roll figures sent by the Assessor’s Office to county government, cities and towns on April 20 show a $209.7 million countywide assessed value increase from 2018, the largest non-reappraisal year increase since sometime before 2010.

Governments apply their property tax rates to each $100 of assessed value to bring in property tax revenue.

The countywide increase in 2017, a reappraisal year, was almost $2.1 billion. That value growth was accompanied by a reduction in tax rates designed to prevent the governments from receiving a revenue windfall from the higher values put on properties by the once-every-four-years reappraisal.

Memphis and Shelby County governments last year reduced the city and county tax rates again for the current fiscal year because they had set their reappraisal appeals allowances too high.

The countywide assessed value increases in recent years before this year were: 2018-$27,038,220; 2016-$147,961,275; 2015-$46,113,405.

All of the figures in this story are the numbers prior to appeals to the county Board of Equalization. The appeals impact in non-reappraisal years is generally not substantial.

News stories about this year’s county budget proposal have said that flat or over-projected revenues have resulted in a tight budget.

Just what are the reasons behind the county’s budget situation? They are not clear.

There is one thing that does seem clear. After most if not all of the property reappraisals before the 2017 reappraisal, an analysis of the numbers shows that Shelby County and Memphis governments were able to gain “secret” or “hidden” property tax increases.

Because of the handling of the 2017 reappraisal appeals in a timely manner, officials of both governments last year had to declare further cuts in the property tax rates or inform the public that the governments had gained a tax increase.

The Memphis news media did a poor job of reporting the fiscal 2019 county budget and tax rate that were adopted last year.

The administration of then county mayor Mark Luttrell recommended a seven-cent cut in the portion of the county tax rate that was going to debt service, a five-cent cut in the schools’ tax rate and a six-cent increase for general county government headed by the mayor and other elected administrators.

Overall, the county tax rate was reduced from $4.11 per each $100 of assessed value to $4.05. (One cent from the debt service cut was added to the five cents cut for schools to produce the six-cent overall rate cut.) These changes were approved by county commissioners last year.

 Shelby County Assessed Values
 Places20182019 Difference 
 Shelby County All$18,990,432,495$19,200,201,477+$209,768,982
Arlington $349,940,230 $360,647,500 +$10,707,270 
Bartlett $1,317,071,725 $1,361,351,590 +$44,279,865 
Collierville $1,757,683,475 $1,774,262,475 +$16,579,000 
Germantown $1,654,177,850 $1,661,854,235 +$7,676,385 
Lakeland $353,433,080 $360,217,580 +$6,784,500
Memphis $11,460,746,695 $11,558,076,362 +$97,329,667 
Millington $195,127,695 $194,819,615 -$308,080
Unincorp $1,902,251,745 $1,928,972,120 +$26,720,275
 Source: Shelby County Property Assessor's Office   

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