Citizens air their tax grievances - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Citizens air their tax grievances

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May 23, 2007


Albany --  The initial shock of new property tax values has passed and now some Dougherty County property owners are preparing for a fight.

Dozens of property owners gathered at Stonebridge Country Club for a meeting to talk about the battle they intend to launch against the county.

Because of the response, the meeting had to be moved from Albany Realty to Stonebridge and was packed with more than 130 property owners with questions about their reassessments.

Many of the property owners have no background in real estate, but they were told they're going to need to learn if they're going to fight the high assessment many have been given.

"If they showed us that they were cutting expenses to take care of some of this expense they were talking about then I think they would be more in favor of maybe a tax increase," said Homeowner Joe Salter.

The Association of Tax Payers is using Attorney Joe Dent to help residents understand what they need to do to fight their assessment.  It starts with filing a written appeal. "You make a presentation to the Board of assessors then if you're unhappy there it goes to the Board of Equalization.  If you're not happy there then it winds up in court before the Superior Court of Dougherty County," Dent said.

Residents weren't any happier when they were told they could hire an appraiser to come out and appraise their home to fight the assessment but that would be at their own cost.  Angry property owners plan to take their concerns straight to commissioners.

"I'm going to call my neighbors and hopefully they'll call some people that they know," said Doug Miller. "I think if we let the commissioners hear that they made a mistake then maybe they'll do something and turn this around."

They're going to need to hire an assessor or get a real estate agent to come up with a value of their home and see if it matches their reassessment if it doesn't they've got an argument. They're going to also need to check with their neighbor's assessments to see if they're uniform.  If they're not they may have grounds to get their appeal turned around.  It's going to take a lot of homework on the property owners behalf to get their appeal adjusted.

Everyone was encouraged to appeal. Property owners only have 45 days from the date on their reassessment to file an appeal in writing. The process of appealing isn't an easy one and today lawyers like Joe Dent outlined the process.

Here's what it includes.

    • First file a written appeal
    • Then you'll get an informal hearing with the assessors
    • If you're not satisfied you can that appeal to the County Tax Assessors Board
    • Then appeal to the Board of Equalization and ultimately the Dougherty Superior Court

Two words they used this afternoon were Value and Uniformity. They're going to play an important role in fighting the reassessment.

A representative from tonight's meeting will attend next week's county commission meeting to urge Commissioners to have local assessors automatically review any assessment that's gone up more than 25 percent.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=TaxAppeals/JE

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