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Tax assessments – not bills – mailed

The Pike County Tax Assessor’s Office recently mailed out property tax assessments to citizens, reflecting a residential valuation increase for 2020. The notices are not the tax bill for citizens as the tax digest has not yet been set. The value of residents’ properties changed as the base cost dollar per square foot of a residence increased for 2020 to reflect current market trends and costs. ’We are certainly concerned and aware in this difficult time that many people have lost jobs or been laid off due to the effects of the virus. We will work with any and all property owners if they only take the time to discuss their property valuation with us. When this project started last year, there was no way we could anticipate the current situation. We had no other option but to correct our values,’ said chief appraiser Greg Hobbs. ‘Since there is a desire to own property in Pike County and there are a limited number of properties for sale in the county, these values have necessarily increased. A value increase does not always equal a tax increase ‘¦ but it could. The tax burden is better equalized when the values are in compliance and everyone pays their fair share. It could also result in a millage rate reduction and most importantly, no state levied fines or loss of grant monies.’ Tax commissioner Donna Chapman addressed the board of commissioners during a recent budget meeting, stating that the county is looking at a 12.243 rollback. She said the impact of this year’s budget is going to be on the homeowner. She also noted that the county has not re-evaluated property values in 10 to 15 years when it’s supposed to be done every three to five years. The county’s tax appraisal staff along with Bethesda Appraisal Services LLC performed a trend analysis and compiled market studies to determine the true base cost dollar per square foot of a residential improvement. The cost schedules must be reflective of the current market trends. ’The in-house study revealed multiple inconsistencies and uniformity issues in 2019 and in prior years. Additionally, the study revealed previous adjustments had only masked the inconsistencies in the residential cost schedules,’ said Hobbs. ‘While no one wants to pay taxes, it is a necessity for the county, the schools and the cities to receive funding. The appraisal staff uses different valuation methods to determine the market value of properties within the county. The county’s values are measured for accuracy by a sales ratio study performed by the state of Georgia through the Department of Audits and Accounts on a yearly basis. If the county fails the audit, fines may be levied on a per parcel basis and the county could possibly face the loss of grant monies. If these issues go unresolved, it could increase your tax burden via millage rate increase. The tax burden would be unequally distributed and could possibly cause state enforced fines.’ Each year on Jan. 1, property taxes are assessed on the fair market value of the property based on information already gathered. An owner has from Jan. 1 to April 1 to file a return to make changes to the property from the previous year. Tax assessment notices are mailed to owners no later than July 1 each year. Prior to notices being mailed, the board of assessors meets to review the proposed digest and comment on any changes in valuation. The board certifies the digest if the ratios are within the tolerance allowed by the state of Georgia (.36 to .44). Last year’s ratio was .3602. After the tax assessment notices are mailed, owners have 45 days to file an appeal with the Tax Assessor’s office. Every appeal is visited and reviewed for accuracy and it is then approved or denied. If the owner disagrees with the finding of the board, they have the right to appeal that decision to the board of equalization or to the superior court. By July 15, the tax assessor’s office submits the digest to the county tax commissioner. Properties are assessed at 40% of the Fair Market Value. The Fair Market Value is defined by the state as ‘the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and willing seller would accept for the property at an arm’s length, bona fide sale.’

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