Homeowner appeals could cost Dougherty County money - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homeowner appeals could cost Dougherty County money

June 1, 2007

Albany--The number of Albany homeowners appealing their property tax assessments continues to rise. So far, 1,100 hundred people have appealed their property revaluations And as more appeals are filed, that could mean more money for the Texas company that conducted those appraisals.

Stan Gibson has called this brick house in Albany's Lake Park community home for five years now. Like many of his neighbors, he's outraged over his recent property assessment notice.

"I thought it was a mistake. It all sky-rocketed," says Gibson.

In fact, the reassesment said the value of his home increased by 40 percent.

"It's just not fair for the working people," says Gibson.

Gibson plans to appeal, but all those appeals could mean more money for the company, Tyler Technologies, that assessed the more than 34,000 pieces of property in the county.

"The more people that have to complain, the more money they make," says Hilliard Burt.

Hilliard Burt is a lawyer and founder of Dougherty-Lee County Taxpayers Association Inc. He recently obtained the contract between Dougherty County and the appraisal company. In it it states:

"After thirty days of handling the complaints, they will charge Dougherty County $750 per person per day," reads Burt.

Those charges are for homeowners who want to appeal directly to the company during an informal hearing. Homeowners still have 45 days to appeal their property assessment before the Board of Assessors during a formal hearing. Even then, the company still has a chance to earn money.

"If they go to the Board of Tax Accessors to sit there with the accessors once the person comes in for an appeal, after ten days they're being paid $950 per person per day," reads Burt from the contract.

Burt says taxpayers will ultimately have to foot the company's bill.

"Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Taxpayers pay everything. If they don't do a very good job, then they make their money otherwise," says Burt.

Tyler Technologies offered the lowest bid, about $869,000 dollars, to assess the county's properties. Homeowners, like Gibson, believe the county got what it paid for.

"They know more about Dougherty County than the people assessing our property, and they're supposed to be looking after our best interest, it's not happening," says Gibson.

He believes had the county gone with a local company to do the job, homeowners would have filed fewer appeals.

"Let's keep our money in Dougherty County, let's pay somebody from Dougherty County to do what Dougherty County wants them to do," says Gibson.

We tried to contact County Administrator Richard Crowdis who signed the contract for comment, but he was out of town.

The Dougherty-Lee County Taxpayers Association will a hold meeting to discuss the recent property assessment notices next Wednesday at 3:15 PM at the Board of Realtors Office located on Lake Park Drive.The public is encouraged to attend.

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