Dear Friends of Blowing Rock,
Blowing Rock issued 355 building permits in 2019 with a value of $18.1 million down 17% from 335 permits in 2018 with a value of $21.9.
Residential permits were $14.2 million and commercial permits were $3.9 million. The mix of residential to commercial permits continues to be approximately 75% of 80% of total permits.
The trend continues to be steady, but below the 5 year average of $21.4 million. The 5 year average was substantially impacted by 2017 which was a banner year of 303 permits with a value of $39.5 million.
There was a shift in residential renovation permits in 2019 increasing to 74% of total residential permits from 34% in 2018. The shift shows the impact of a small number of large new homes constructed in recent years and a new trend towards restoration and renovation of older homes. The change seems to indicate choice to invest in our historic resort community.
To put the volume of permits in perspective, the total value of permits in 2019 represents only 1.6% of our property tax base or approximately $70 thousand of new property tax revenue. Growth in our property tax base has been and will continue to be modest.
The Winkler Organization has been the most active new developer in 2019 and 2020 obtaining permits for two commercial hotel projects and one small subdivision. The permits for Rainey Lodge have not been issued.
Property tax revenue represents 51% of the Town’s total operating budget. Homeowners pay 92% of total property taxes in Blowing Rock which is a much larger percentage than most cities that have a significant commercial or industrial economy. Our seasonal homeowners are the equivalent of our commercial or industrial component of our local economy. Our Advocacy Plan has pointed out that we should re-set our economic development equation to recognize and capitalize on the importance of our seasonal homeowners as a major driver of our tourism economy.
Since we are a seasonal resort community, the average property tax valuation per capita is over $900 thousand for each “full-time” resident who has declared Blowing Rock as their primary residence. Approximately 80% of the homeowners are seasonal residents and taxpayers. This statistic is a major positive underwriting factor for our bond rating. The properties listed the recent bond prospectus with the highest property tax valuations were all owned by seasonal homeowners.
All property will be revalued by the county on an 8 year cycle in 2022. The revaluation should not result in additional property tax revenue for the Town. Any increase in overall property tax values is usually offset by a corresponding reduction in the mileage rate (“Roll-Back”) which is currently $0.39 per $100 in Blowing Rock; otherwise, the Town Council would be voting for a significant tax rate increase.
We should be encouraged by the trends in new and renovation construction that that our historical village continues to attract seasonal and some permanent homeowners as it has for over 100 years.
Tim Gupton, President