Commission studies assessment numbers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commission studies assessment numbers

May 21, 2007

Albany --  Dougherty County's property tax base may jump 30%. That's what preliminary numbers show after county-wide revaluations, but that doesn't mean your taxes will jump that much.

More than 38,000 pieces of property were part of the massive revaluation in Dougherty County. Some parcels doubled in value, like agricultural land. But residential property, went up by about 26% in value overall.

In all, there is a 30% increase in real property value, so will your taxes go up that much? It's not likely. "That's what I'm looking forward to is rolling back the millage rate and hopefully it will be fair and equitable to as many people as possible," said County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins.

But you may not necessarily think your property value is fair. So, you'll have to prove it.

"We need documentation." Luther Nicholson is the project supervisor for the revaluation process, done by the Tyler Company. He says any property owner who is worried about the new value should gather information about their home or property and bring it in for an informal hearing. "If there's a problem with your home, termites, or floors or items inside that we cannot see, then we need that."

The more information you can provide, the better off you'll be. For example, if you've been trying to sell your house for a long time with no takers, bring in that information, also if you recently bought a house for much less than the accessed value, you need to bring in that information as well.

"We want it to be equal. We don't want one person paying X amount of dollars and the person next to them in a similar home paying something totally different," said Nicholson.

Though you may be paying a different millage rate than you were before. "We'll have much more flexibility in lowering the millage rate, which I'm looking forward to do," said Hudgins.

If you're property value did increase, and you're worried about a higher tax bill you should look into possible exemptions, like Homestead Exemption which will lower the amount you're required to pay. Contact the tax office for more information.

If you think the assessed value of your property is wrong, you need to act fast. You must appeal the assessed value within 45 days of the notice being sent out. Then, a recommendation will be made to the board of tax assessors to change the value, or keep it the same.

"After an individual makes an appeal, that goes to the board of tax assessors.  At the time the board of tax assessors, they will hear the recommendation from the staff.  They'll also look at the documents and depending on their decision, they'll either say they agree with the staff or they'll make a change," said Tax Director Denver Hooten

If no change is made, an automatic appeal is made to the board of equalization.  Ultimately your appeal can end up in Superior Court.  But if you don't make an initial appeal within 45 days of your notice, you lose all rights to appeal your property value.

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