Lee land value sky-rockets - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee land value sky-rockets

May 22, 2006

Leesburg -- Many Lee County property owners are reeling from tax reassessment notices they are receiving now. Property values were re-evaluated for the first time since 1997 in Southwest Georgia's fastest growing county.

Tonight many see the impact in dollars added onto their fair market value, and know that could mean a big increase in their yearly property taxes.  

Lee County farmers are seeing some of the biggest impact. Roy Goodson opened his tax reassessment notice Saturday, and said he was: "Shocked."

Goodson owns 196 acres of pecan orchards in North Lee County. The fair market value last year was $160,810. The re-evaluation notice says it's now worth $423,100, a 163% increase.

He worries his taxes will,   "Double, more than double, yea, that's what I think," said Goodson.  

Goodson was at the Lee County Tax Assessors office this morning to get his appeal of that assessment underway. Technical Appraisal Services of Georgia spent the last two years doing the assessment for Lee County, and they say Southwest Georgia farm prices have skyrocketed.

Melzar Nye of Technical Appraisal Services said, "I would say the demand, people are wanting to buy agricultural properties to get away from city life."

Goodson says farmers are barely making a profit now, and says tax increases like this may force many to leave Lee County. "You are trying to make a living with farm crops, and you got people who are already millionaires coming in here buying land for hunting purposes, and that is what they are basing their taxes on."

Goodson will appeal his assessment, and talk to his neighbors. And he says he will remember come election time.  "I think it will have a major effect on elections. This time and next time. I really do."

Farmers will be taxed at a lower rate by Conservation use evaluation, but many home owners in Lee County will see 30% to 50% assessment increases, and the increased tax payments that comes with it.

Assessment hearings for appeals will be held at the Lee County tax assessors office from May 30th until June 2nd. Property owners have 45 days to appeal their tax re-assessment, but company officials who did those assessments say they feel confident their figures will stand up.

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