Edwards says efforts to lower tax rate continue

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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Southampton County recently released a public notice highlighting the real estate tax increase that will be experienced by county residents if the currently proposed 76-cent real property tax rate is adopted.

Though the real estate tax rate of 76 cents per $100 of assessed value would represent a 13-cent decrease from the current rate of 89 cents, the recent reassessment that announced significantly increased land values in the county will result in fiscal year 2025 tax revenues projected to be $1,846,249 greater than what was projected for FY 2024 under the 89-cent rate. This information came via Southampton County Chief Financial Officer Lynette C. Lowe.

The public notice, titled “Notice of Proposed Real Property Tax Increase,” is located on page A3 and includes some other key numbers that provide important context.

The Tidewater News reached out to Southampton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dr. Alan W. Edwards for comment. Edwards has been at the forefront of efforts to lower the county’s proposed real property tax rate, and he indicated it could come down a few more cents from 76 before the budget is adopted.


The county’s public notice first noted, “Total assessed value of real property, excluding additional assessments due to new construction or improvements to property, exceeds last year’s total assessed value of real property by 45.18%.”

“I think it’s a little higher than that, I think it’s around 58% if you look at everything,” Edwards said. “That is what the Wingate (Appraisal Service) says. They mulled that around for a while, but at least 45%, and finally they said it could be as much as 58%.”

Edwards noted that Wingate performed the county’s reassessment, and he estimated that the organization has done so every six years for the last 20 years.

“You can reassess every year if you want to, but it’ll cost $350,000 to $400,000, so that doesn’t make sense to do that,” Edwards said.


The public notice stated that the tax rate that would levy the same amount of real estate tax as last year, when multiplied by the new total assessed value of real estate with the exclusions mentioned above, would be 64.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. The notice named this rate the “lowered tax rate.”

Next, the public notice mentioned the county’s proposed 76-cent real estate tax rate and stated that the difference between the lowered tax rate and the proposed rate would be 11.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. The notice named this 17.829% difference the “effective tax rate increase.”

The notice added, “Individual property taxes may, however, increase at a percentage greater than or less than the above percentage.”

Edwards highlighted a public hearing coming up on Tuesday, May 21, that will be part of the Board of Supervisors’ meeting that begins at 6 p.m. in the boardroom of the Southampton County Office Center at 26022 Administration Center Drive in Courtland.

“On the 21st, we’re going to have a public hearing with that, and we said we’re going to keep our thinking caps on,” he said, referencing efforts to further lower the proposed real property tax rate. “That 76 I don’t think is going to stand. I think it’s going to go down another two to three cents, maybe more.”

He derived this expectation from conversations with other board members. 

For perspective, he noted that each penny of the real estate tax rate is worth $216,000.


The public notice explained that based on the proposed real property tax rate of 76 cents and based on changes in other revenues, the total budget of Southampton County “will exceed last year’s by – (negative) 5.44%.”

The notice goes on to acknowledge that this “is actually a decrease due to the capital projects that were included in the overall budget in FY24.”

But then the notice stated, “The proposed total budget increase computed when excluding capital projects is 5.19%.”

Asked if some of these numbers are just a reality of inflation, Edwards said, “I think inflation now is 3.4%, and there have been six years since (county land value) was evaluated, so you can put six years worth of inflation there. But like I said, on the 21st, we’re going to pretty much come up with a solid number or figures there, and I think (the proposed real property tax rate is) going to be maybe 72 (cents) or so, might be one or two plus or minus there, but it’s going to come down a little further.”

The public notice stated that a public hearing specifically on the proposed real property tax increase will be held on Wednesday, May 29, at 6 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room at the Southampton County Office Center.