Year after year, some of the most important data released annually get no news media attention: the assessed value of property for tax purposes.

The values influence the property tax rate – one of the two primary tax sources (sales tax is the other) for every government – which in turn drives the funding available for public services like education, public safety, criminal justice, health care, and more.

The overall increase in assessed value in all of Shelby County didn’t even reach two-tenths of one percent, or $27 million over the previous year’s $18.96 billion.  It’s an amount that immediately raises questions about all those big numbers about capital investments in our community.

For example, EDGE proudly touts that its liberal business incentives resulted in $4.4 billion in capital investment since 2011.  And others say that the Memphis area has $15 billion in new construction projects in about four years.

And yet, these dramatic numbers aren’t reflected by dramatic increases in the assessed value of property.

We’ve written before: “Real estate development is not economic development,” but these assessed valuations raise the question of whether talk about capital investments is an overstated talking point that is doing little to support vital services of our community’s governments.

Veteran journalist Jimmie Covington reliably keeps track of these important data points and he submitted the following post.  He has lengthy experience covering governmental, educational, and demographic issues. He is a contributing writer with The Best Times, a monthly news magazine for active people 50 and older, where this initially appeared. 

By Jimmie Covington

The assessed value of property for tax purposes increased $88 million in Shelby County outside Memphis this year while it dropped $60.9 million within the city, certified tax roll figures released in April by the County Assessor’s Office show.

Because of appeals, it is not unusual for total values to drop for the year following a property reappraisal year, but this year’s figures indicate that growth and development in the suburbs has exceeded the loss of value to appeals.

At the same time, the numbers indicate that the new construction and development in several parts of Memphis have not produced enough new property value to offset the loss from successful appeals and from perhaps other causes.

In developing budgets and tax rate figures this year, officials of Memphis, Shelby County and the suburban municipalities reported that the impact of appeals had been less than expected. As a result, each government had to calculate a recapture property tax rate. As a result, most of the governments this year have cut their property tax rates and reduced property taxes.

Countywide this year, the assessed values rose $27 million— from $18.963 billion to $18.990 billion—an increase of only 0.14 percent.

The value total in Memphis dropped from $11.52 billion to $11.46 billion, a decline of $60.9 million or 0.53 percent.

The largest dollar value suburban increase was $32.6 million in Collierville, a 1.89 percent increase. The largest percentage increases are in the smaller suburbs of Millington, 3.57 percent, and Arlington, 3.26 percent.

The figures show that all of the property tax revenue growth to fund increases in the new county government budget and the county’s schools budget will come from the county outside Memphis.

Property owners are allowed to file appeals of appraised values every year. The 2018 values in the chart are those in place before county Board of Equalization action on 2018 appeals. Similarly, the 2017 values are those in place before the board’s action on the reappraisal appeals. The 2018 values do reflect the results of appeals of the 2017 values.

The governments’ property tax rates are applied to each $100 of the assessed value. Assessments differ on the various types of property. For example, residential property is assessed at 25 percent of appraised value and commercial and industrial property is assessed at 40 percent.

Assessed values for tax purposes

Places                              2017                          2018                      %Change

Shelby Co.  All         $18,963,394,275  $18,990,432,495           +0.14

Arlington                  $338,870,090         $349,940,230              +3.26

Bartlett                     $1,303,003,810     $1,317,071,725            +1.07

Collierville                $1,725,044,030     $1,757,683,475            +1.89

Germantown           $1,637,981,540     $1,654,177,850             +0.99

Lakeland                   $350,643,485         $353,433,080             +0.80

Memphis                 $11,521,720,355  $11,460,746,695             -0.53

Millington                $188,394,465         $195,127,695                +3.57

Unincorporated      $1,897,736,500     $1,902,251,745              +0.24

Source: Shelby County Property Assessor’s Office