Last week, Richmond property owners opened their annual tax assessment letters to find the total taxable value of Richmond real estate has increased by 7% for the upcoming year. While commercial and multifamily properties saw an increase of about 6.1%, homeowners were hit with a 7.7% increase in this latest round of assessments. That raises the price of the average Richmond city home from about $247,000 to $266,000. This latest increase comes on the heels of last year’s whopping 8.3% jump in home values. As the RTD’s Mark Robinson reported last week, the back-to-back increases mean city homeowners will be spending on average about $450 more in real estate taxes than they paid in 2017.
For some residents, the increase is significantly higher, especially in some of the poorest areas of the city. The greatest increases were in South Richmond neighborhoods — in the Swansboro and Maury assessment area, the value of the tax base grew by 25%, followed by Oak Grove and Bellemeade, where values grew 23% and 19%, respectively. Richie McKeithen, the city assessor, told Robinson, “Our traditionally strong neighborhoods have done well for so long that individuals are now going into other neighborhoods that are more affordable.”
More affordable for whom? Because in many of the rapidly gentrifying areas of the city, many lower-income residents can ill afford the additional taxes. Laura Lafayette, CEO of the Richmond Association of Realtors, suggests it’s time to hold conversations as to what type of tax relief the city could provide long-term residents in some of the weaker real estate markets.
As difficult as this must be for city homeowners, there is one small silver lining. Every one of them must be thanking their lucky stars that City Council refused to grant Mayor Levar Stoney’s request for a 9-cent increase in real estate taxes this spring. As one Richmond homeowner noted, if that happened on top of these assessments, there would have been a tsunami of city residents headed for the counties. Rest assured that if there is more tax revenue, the city will spend it — rather than return it.
— Robin Beres