Alpena County taxable values climb again

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz A for sale sign sits in front of a home in Alpena on Thursday. The supply and demand of housing have contributed to an increase in taxable value in Alpena County, which will result in higher tax bills for property owners.

ALPENA — Property owners in Alpena County who still have sticker shock from a property tax increase they received last year should brace for another bump in the coming months.

A rise in equalized and taxable values countywide will result in higher tax bills for residential, commercial, and industrial property owners.

Local municipalities will welcome the added tax revenue, as many local governments struggle with budget deficits and raising costs and depend on property taxes for operations.

Alpena County Assessor Ted Somers said the latest assessment shows the overall county equalized value increased by nearly 15%, which led to a nearly 7% jump in the taxable value of homes in the county. Property taxes are levied on the taxable value of homes and businesses, so higher values equal higher tax bills, even if the tax rates stay the same.

The actual increase in value slips to about 5% for many people because of the so-called Headlee rollback, which refers to a state law that requires local governments to reduce their tax rates when annual growth on existing property values exceeds the rate of inflation. The local governments’ tax rates get rolled back so the resulting growth in property tax revenue is no more than the rate of inflation.

Somers said this year’s rise in equalized and taxable values mimics increases last year, when taxable values increased by 7%, not including the Headlee rollback.

He said the need for housing and the increased prices people are paying for homes are contributing factors in the rising evaluations.

“I think it is a supply and demand thing,” Somers said. “What I’m hearing from realtors is the inventory just isn’t there and … people are paying a premium for things that are on the market.”

Somers said there may be some light at the end of the tunnel and property tax increases may be smaller in the coming years.

“We’re still seeing increased values, but it does seem like they are beginning to taper off a little bit, though,” he said. “It appears the values are stabilizing a bit. I guess we’ll see what next year brings.”

As property taxes climb, so does the revenue municipalities depend on to pay for public services.

This year, Somers said, officials expect the county will collect an additional $300,000 in property taxes, which matches the increased tax revenue the county collected last year.

That news may help the county whittle away at a projected budget deficit of over $1 million.

Later this year, several countywide millages will be on the ballot. Several are renewals and won’t increase the tax rates property owners already pay.

But one proposal would hike tax rates.

The county will ask voters in August to approve a tax hike meant to reclaim the tax revenue the county loses through Headlee.

The Headlee rollup, as county commissioners call it, would increase the county’s tax rate by 0.7 mills, which would bring in about $800,000 a year for the county and be used to stabilize the budget, especially the county Sheriff’s Office.

The tax increase would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $35 a year and the owner of a $200,000 house about $70 a year more than they pay now for county operations.

The commissioners have said that, should the tax proposal fail, drastic cuts to services would need to be considered, including laying off employees.

The countywide ambulance tax is also up for renewal and the renewal of the library millage will also come before voters. If approved, the same tax rates will apply, although there could be small increases or decreases as market values fluctuate.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today