I suppose by this time most of you have received your new assessments. After reviewing mine, I remembered an old story from long ago. Seems old man Smith received his reassessment on his little place and he was not at all happy with it. So, he dutifully went before the board and told them his reassessment was outrageously high. The fellow running the show said, “Now, Mr. Smith, you understand, do you not, that these reassessments are based on the full market value of your property?”
Mr. Smith said, “Well, that’s what it said in the papers I got. But nobody is going to pay that much for my old place.”
The head of the panel said, “Mr. Smith, are you telling me that you would sell your place for the new reassessment price?”
Mr. Smith, looking at the younger man, said, “Son, you give me fifteen minutes to go home and get my other pair of britches and the old lady, and you can have it for that price.”
Now, as my old friend, Ronnie Poe, used to say, I don’t mean any disrespect to the ladies out there, old or otherwise. That’s just the way I heard the story told.
Maybe I should look at the situation a bit more philosophically. I remember when my bride and I had two children in college at once, and we were trying to keep up with the tuition and books and living expenses for both of them. Once, when a number of bills came due close to one another, I happened to be home and I must have complained to my mother about the costs.
I shall never forget her response. “Son, just be glad you have the money to pay those bills. That’s what you saved it for.”
And, of course, she was right. My dreams have always been pretty simple ones. One of my earliest dreams was that when our children finished high school there would be no question as to what came next. I feel fortunate and blessed to have seen that dream fulfilled.
As for the current reassessments, following are a couple examples that Linda and I received. One little 2.4-acre lot we own went from $54,000 to $74,000. If I remember what Fisher Burford taught me about percentages, that’s a 37 percent increase. I know inflation has been bad. I have been to the grocery store several times, myself. But 37 percent?
The little house on the Fodderstack Road that my cousin, Charlie Lillard, built in the 1960’s, where Linda and I live, went from $167,000 to $240,800. That’s almost a 44 percent increase. That’s just the house. Fortunately, the 2 acres it sits on only went up about 10 percent.
How much luck you or I will have with getting some of these reassessments changed, I don’t know. I can tell you that the last time I visited the reassessment board, I complained about the value they had placed on a little plywood cabin that Linda and I had built with our own hands. One of the things they said was that they hadn’t realized we had water in the cabin, so that made the value go up. I told them there was no well on the place.
One of the reassessment people quickly pointed out that there was an outside spigot on the side of the cabin. I admitted that there was such a spigot. And if he would go with me, I would show him the black plastic, ¾-inch well pipe that runs up the mountain about a hundred yards to a natural spring. There were no takers on seeing our “well” and no change to the reassessed value. This year, the new assessment on that structure went from $48,800 to $64,400. That is another 32 percent increase on a building that cost us about $10,000 to put up.
We shall see, once again, if the promised revision in the tax rate comes about from the Board of Supervisors, and how much it helps to realign our new taxes with something approaching reality.