Revaluation or reassessment notices went out Aug. 1 and property owners in Spalding County have 45 days to appeal the changes by the Board of Assessors. The deadline to file appeals is Sept. 15, said Chief Appraiser Tim Whalen.
The phone lines are busy at the Tax Assessors office and appeals are going on up to 4 p.m. each day, Monday through Friday. “As of the close of business on Wednesday, Aug. 8, we had received 288 appeals,” Whalen said.
“No one area of the county had more increases or decreases that another one,” he said, “Valuations fluctuated, up or down, across the entire county.”
Whalen said 11,815 or 39.317 percent of properties increased in value and 17,653 or 58.745 percent of properties decreased in value, while 582 or 1.936 percent of properties did not change in value.
Appeals are heard as the taxpayer files them in the Tax Assessors Office, Whalen explained, unless the appeals are made by mail. If mailed, an appointment will be set up for the taxpayer to appear for their appeal.
Once the appeals are completed the assessors will determine the value of the county’s tax digest. Whalen said by statute the tax digest is to be submitted by Aug. 1 of a given year, absent an extension requested by the Tax Commissioner. “This extension has been requested by Tax Commissioner Sylvia Hollums for this tax digest,” he said.
Whalen said penalties from the state, which also gets the digest, are waived with the extension request. Hollums said there is usually an extension when there revaluations, “to give them time to complete the appeals,”
Whalen said, “after exemptions are applied, the tax digest for 2012, prior to appeals, is virtually unchanged from the 2011 tax digest. The increases and decreases balance out to produce an equalized digest for Spalding County.”
Based on the completed digest, after the appeals are complete, the County Commissioners will have to set the property tax or millage rate. At last Monday’s meeting the county’s Administrative Services Director Jinna Garrison told the commissioners, “the board will have to decide to raise taxes or cut services, but we won’t know until we get through with appeals.”
An assessment appeal may be made on the basis of taxability of the property, the value placed upon the property, or the uniformity of that value when compared to other similar properties in the county. It should not be based on any complaint regarding the amount of taxes levied on the property, according the Spalding County Board of Tax Assessors website.
If after the hearing, a property owner still disagrees with the decision, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the County Board of Equalization. A hearing is scheduled, conducted and the Board of Equalization renders its decision.
If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied with the decision, an appeal to Superior Court may be made.
The three person Board of Assessors is appointed by the county commissioners. The Board of Equalization is appointed by the Grand Jury with three members and three alternates.