Across Davidson County, letters have been arriving in mailboxes telling residents how much their property is now worth and in turn, how much they’ll pay in property taxes. For many, it comes with jolting news: A home much pricier than it was just four years earlier.
But it turns out the number of complaints over the new appraisals is fewer than the city expected.
Inside the Davidson County appraisal call center, rows of appraisers, the same ones who re-valued the properties in Davidson County, are chatting away. They’re flanked by cups of coffee, candy and packets of gum. Maps of the city line the walls.
"I’ve got 16 people in there and they are answering phones where the tax payers are calling in," says Sam Richards, who runs the call center.
The average home in Davidson County increased by more than a third. It’s a historic jump. But at this point, Richards says the number of calls trying to appeal are about on par with most reappraisal years.
"We were bracing for the worst. And it has turned out to be the best," he says. "Hard to believe, but it has been the best."
Still, the office has received more than 4,000 calls asking about appraisals. It’s a price based on homes that have recently sold nearby and any upgrades done to the property.
James Westbrook is an appraiser working the phones.
"You get a little bit of everything," he says. "But mainly folks just get their notice and see that it was $100,000 last year and now it’s $180,000 and you know they don’t understand why."
He says once he crunches the numbers with Davidson County’s new lower tax rate, he can often deliver good news.
"Your taxes, mam or sir, are actually doing down," he says, reiterating his usual refrain.
The rough math is this: If the value of your home increased less than 37 percent than you’ll pay less in property taxes. If your home went up more than 37 percent, you’ll pay more.
I fall into the second group. Big time. I bought my home in Donelson last September and according to the county it’s gone up 100 percent. It seemed a little steep to me. So Richards began tapping away on his tiny calculator.
"You were paying $1,947.08," he says. "The new taxes are going to be…"
He enters my total assessed value and calculates it with the new tax rate for my neighborhood, $3.15. The result: I’ll be paying $900 more in property taxes. I’m lucky to be in such a great neighborhood, he adds. But I keep thinking about my ballooning monthly payments.
"So, be honest with me," I ask. "Do you think I should challenge this?"
"Well, being that you just bought it I do not think that you should," Richards replies. "But you have the right to. Everybody has the right to appeal their property."
Those thinking about appealing, including me, have until Friday to decide.