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Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

Get ready, real estate taxes are going up.

This week, Charlottesville released its latest real estate assessments — and they’re a lot higher than last year. The average assessed value of a Charlottesville home increased by more than 12%. That’s on top of a more than 11% increase from 2022, meaning that in just two years, the assessed value of city real estate rose nearly 25%.

It’s a similar story in Albemarle County, where assessments rose roughly 20% in that same time frame — 13% in 2023 and 8% in 2022.

Credit: Andrew Shurtleff/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Local property assessments rose 25% in two years, which means higher tax bills and more money for local governments

For some quick background, a property’s assessed value is the figure local governments use to determine how much to tax landowners. Localities calculate property taxes by multiplying a property’s assessed value by the local tax rate. So, higher assessments mean higher tax bills.

The assessed value is not the same as the market value. A property’s market value tends to be much higher, though assessments increase when market values do. And that’s exactly what’s happened over the last two years — actual property values skyrocketed.

Between 2019 and 2022 in Charlottesville, the median sale price for a home increased nearly 20% — from $357,000 in 2019 to $427,000 in 2022 — according to data compiled by Virginia REALTORS, a trade association that represents businesses and individuals in the real estate industry.

The trend is not unique to our community. Across the country, families are struggling with higher tax bills, according to this CBS News article.

That will undoubtedly be the case here. Rising housing costs in the city are already pushing families out. Reporter Erin O’Hare highlighted this trend in a story over the summer. Local data shows that Charlottesville’s median incomes are rising. Why? Only the wealthy can afford to be here.

Credit: Credit: Erin O’Hare/Charlottesville Tomorrow

In the Charlottesville area, the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting pushed out

If you’re a homeowner and you’d like your tax bill to come down, you have a couple options. First, you can appeal your new assessment. Click here for instructions. Your other option — if you qualify — is to apply for real estate tax relief with the city. Click here to learn more.

The flip side of assessments rising is that our local governments will collect more money this year. Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said he’s not sure how they will spend that money. “It’s much too early to say,” he said. But, judging by past City Council decisions, they may put the money toward building projects.

The city has spent millions on affordable housing projects in the last decade, and intends to continue building more in the coming years. These projects were important enough to Council members that they voted to raise the real estate tax rate last spring — despite having a budget surplus — so they could collect more money for them.

Credit: Screenshot of Charlottesville City Council meeting taken April 12, 2022

Despite a budget surplus, Charlottesville City Council voted to increase real estate and meals taxes

The other big building project that needs funding is Buford Middle School and Walker Upper Elementary School. Both these schools are old and deteriorating — and have been for years. The plan right now is to devote $68.8 million to partially rebuild Buford. The plan does not include a new auditorium that is also in need of an upgrade, nor does it include any work on Walker.

“This is an extremely expensive project,” Councilor Michael Payne told us in 2021. “There is still a lot of work to figure out how to make it happen, and I think we’re just going to have to take a really honest, clear-eyed look at our budget as part of being committed to make this happen.”

Credit: Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

City Council supports the much-needed Buford Middle School rebuild, but must raise taxes or delay other projects to do it

On a different topic: Applications for Charlottesville’s new City Council member have closed. Twenty people applied. We’ll learn more this week about Council’s next steps and how you can voice your opinion.

And finally, another person was killed this weekend in a shooting in Charlottesville. Eldridge Smith, 36, was shot multiple times on the 1100 block of Grove Street on Saturday night. Police found him in an SUV. They’re still investigating, and if you have any information, they ask that you call their Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 434-977-4000.

This is the second person killed in a shooting in the city this month. Three others — including a child — have also been injured in shootings.

Thanks for being here today,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.