If you own property in Lincolnton and/or Lincoln County, you may already have received your 2019 Property Tax Notice. If you haven't, you will shortly--bills were mailed this week. The Catawba County Tax Office will mail 2019 Property Tax Notices next Tuesday (July 16th). Gaston & Cleveland counties won't mail theirs until later in the month.
In all area counties but Cleveland, tax bills for 2019 will be more than they were in 2018. Unlike the others--all of whom had revaluations this year--Cleveland County doesn't have a revaluation until next year, and Commissioners didn't change the 72¢ per hundred dollars property value tax rate that has been in effect for over two decades.
Lincoln County is the only area county that offers a discount for early payment. While the tax bill isn't officially due until September 1st, if you pay before that, you can save 2% off your bill. While property taxes are due on September 1st, you won't be penalized if you pay before January 7th of next year. That's true in all of North Carolina's 100 counties.
Lincoln County Commissioners reduced the county tax rate to 59.9¢ compared to the previous 61.1¢, but the reduction in rate was exceeded by the increase in most property values, so you'll pay more. The 59.9¢ does not include the fire district taxes, and city of Lincolnton residents will also have a City tax bill. The City maintained its rate of 56¢.
Gaston County Commissioners reduced their rate (the 5th highest in the state) from 87¢ to 84¢--but most property values there increased by an even greater percentage than those in Lincoln, so your Gaston County tax bill will be more than last year.
Catawba County Commissioners left their rate at 57.5¢, but with an average increase in property values close to 10%, your Catawba County taxes will also be greater.
There is a tendency to compare tax rates county to county and city to city--and that works fairly well for counties but much less so for cities, because cities often have other fees that are part of the cost of living there. For that reason, we hope readers won't take the figures we're providing as an apples to apples, oranges to oranges comparison.
The highest combined city and county tax rate in our primary coverage area--Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston & Cleveland counties--is in the town of Stanley. The county tax rate of 84¢ plus the 54¢ town tax rate gives Stanley a total rate of $1.38 per hundred dollars valuation. Gastonia has a combined rate (city & county) of $1.36; Belmont $1.355; High Shoals $1.354 (which includes a fire tax for the North Gaston Fire & Rescue); Cherryville $1.30; Dallas $1.24.
Lincolnton's combined rate (Lincoln County & city of Lincolnton) amounts to $1.059.
Please remember, we said there are other matters to be considered. Lincolnton and some other cities and towns also sell electricity--which they buy from Duke Energy. Water & sewer rates are also an important part of the cost of living in any city or town. Some towns collect a solid waste pickup fee (remember the infamous proposed 'garbage tax' as the GOP called it in a city election a few years ago?). Towns are also allowed to charge a special vehicle tag tax--while Cherryville charges $3, Gastonia charges $30 (maximum allowed), Bessemer City $20, Stanley $15, and Dallas $10. Lincolnton charges $20.
By comparing tax rates alone and not taking into consideration other factors, it would seem that living in Charlotte costs less in taxes than living in Lincolnton. Mecklenburg County Commissioners reduced that county's tax rate substantially this year after revaluation swelled the total property values in the county. Their rate is now 61.69¢. Charlotte's city tax rate is 34.81¢, so their combined Charlotte/Mecklenburg rate is 96.5¢. Of course, most properties in Charlotte--because of location--are valued much higher than similar properties in other area counties, so a comparison based solely on tax rate isn't an accurate comparison of the cost of owning property there.
Keep that in mind as you read these other rates. In Catawba County, the highest city tax rate is the town of Catawba (58¢). Hickory's city tax rate is 56.65, while Newton's is 54¢ and Maiden's is 38¢.
Since your 2019 tax bill is likely going to be bigger than previous years, if you can (in Lincoln County) take advantage of the 2% early payment discount (before September 1st). If you can't do that, consider setting aside a little each month toward the total bill--you have until early January 2020 to pay withou penalty.
You may have noticed that the Lincoln Herald is quite often not the first news source to report a story. It bothers us that in this day of Facebook mentality, many news organizations have mistaken being first to report something with being accurate when they do. At the Lincoln Herald, we take the time necessary to get the story right. If there's a situation that the public needs to know right away (hurricanes, floods, snowstorms, etc. where public safety is the main consideration), we post the information much more quickly than most others--and we update the information constantly to keep readers informed. In other cases, we take longer to make sure our sources are valid and the information is correct. If we do make a mistake, we correct it as soon as we know.
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