Is property revaluation the "Perfect Storm"? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Is property revaluation the "Perfect Storm"?

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October 15, 2007

Albany - Hundreds of disgruntled taxpayers appear before the Dougherty County Commission, demanding what they call a flawed reassessment of properties be thrown out. They say senior citizens and working people are being taxed out of their homes. One taxpayer called it the perfect economic storm, that will ultimately devastate the entire county.

Standing room only, as hundreds of frustrated taxpayers show up to protest not only what amounts to an increase in millage, but a property reassessment they believe is bogus. "Cut your losses, throw it out. It's illegitimate, it's not constitutional," said Richard Thomas. 

Thomas, representing the Dougherty County Taxpayers association, spoke not only to commissioners about the assessment, but straight to the folks who will be most affected, those footing the bill.

"Once they get this inflated assessment on the books," he said, "It's there to stay and you have to deal with it next year when they pop you with another millage rate and another millage rate and another millage rate. You understand?" "Yes," cried audience members. "That's why we want the assessment thrown out. It's illegitimate."

But Thomas wasn't the only person worried about the assessment. One woman said her elderly mother will be taxed out of her home, unless the commission takes drastic steps to cut costs and cut taxes.  She said, "If we as taxpayers are going to have to tighten our belts to pay our taxes, I appeal to the Dougherty County Commission, to tighten the county's belt. Cut back on some of the things that have been funded so we can all survive."

Commissioners, obviously taken by surprise with the huge turnout, didn't do much talking, but chairman Jeff Sinyard says they are listening. He said, "In the 23 years I've been involved in the community, it's been the most difficult process I've engaged in because you're dealing with people's income, dealing with their life, you're dealing with how they live everyday."

Living in the Good Life City, which Ricky Berry says has been anything but good lately. "When you are hurting like that, getting taxed out of your homes, that ain't a good feeling."

Julie Scott said her husband, a soldier who just returned from Iraq, had just one dream... the American dream. She said, "He said he just wanted a piece of land he could say was his." But with a drastic increase in their home's value, she says they may not be able to afford to keep it. "I do not want to get taxed out of my home," she said.

And Thomas says if these folks are taxed out of their homes because of the reassessments, he'll make certain the commissioners are voted out of their seats next election.

The Commission has called a meeting for October 24th to set the millage rate.

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