The Hart County board of assessors (BOA) reached a significant milestone during its regular meeting on Thursday, Aug. 16. The Board approved schedules and procedures for the assessor’s Office to develop 2010 and 2011 tax digests.Lowell Macher, BOA Chairman, commented, “This is a huge accomplishment by the assessor’s Office and positions us to be completely up-to-date with our digests by the end of 2013. In planning for the 2010 and 2011 digests the Assessor’s Office simplified and streamlined the process and schedules for assessing value. Property owners should find it much easier to understand their own assessed values as well as others with similar properties. As a result, we expect far fewer appeals and much quicker resolution for those who do appeal.”
The importance of Thursday’s BOa action can be seen by comparing where we were with where we want to be. A year ago, we were still buried under thousands of unresolved appeals from 2009. we were faced with the knowledge that our records were incomplete and laden with errors. For 2013, our goals are to have a correct and up-to-date database, to start and finish the process on time, and to have a fair property appraisal for Hart County.
Preparing for the 2010 and 2011 digests has moved us much closer to those goals. Many property owners came into the office to have errors in their records corrected. We resolved the backlog of paperwork such as sales, deed transfers, conservation applications, and the mobile home digest . We updated records and schedules that were overlooked for sometime. we identified, restructured, and streamlined the two parts of the 2009 digest that were most problematic. All of these efforts provide a much stronger foundation for 2012 and2013.
Rural land schedules were overhauled, reducing the wide variation in values assigned in 2009. “Accessibility areas” showing parts of the county with different sales values have been reconfigured. They are now less arbitrary and more in line with landowners’ understandings. Productivity values for large parcels have been compressed. Adjustments for “Desirability”of all large and most small parcels have been removed. The effect of these changes has been dramatic. For example, in 2009 the per acre value of many large parcels exceeded $8,000, where in 2010 few exceed $5,000.
All lake property schedules were reviewed. Four lake subdivision value schedules replaced 174. We brought “rural-lake” and “urban-lake” property values into line with values of lake subdivisions. Adjustments such as “water quality” and “neighborhood” factors were eliminated. These changes produce similar values to similar subdivisions and eliminate factors that arbitrarily added “value” to some properties.
Changes to lake and rural property valuation have been most dramatic, but other residential properties will reflect changes as well. Values for “improvements” and “accessories” have been adjusted to reflect economic conditions in 2010 and 2011. Improvements are dwellings. Accessories are other structures on property. In today’s economy, an existing almost new house can be bought more cheaply than a similar house can bebuilt. To reflect this fact, values for structures were reduced 10 percent in 2010 and an additional 10 percent in 2011.
The economy will have one more effect on the assessment notices that property owners see for 2010 and 2011. The legislature
mandated a moratorium on increases on property values for 2010 and 2011. Thus, no values can be increased for these two years due to “inflation,” correction of errors, or the realization that property may have been undervalued somehow in 2009. For most properties, the assessment notice is likely to show a reduction. Only properties that were improved (e.g., new building) will experience increases in 2010 and 2011.
The moratorium expires in 2012, meaning that values can increase as the market warrants. We will make every effort to ensure that 2012 assessments are fair and equitable. In the meantime, property owners who have not done so should visit the assessor’s office to ensure that the information on property records is accurate. This is a good idea even when the assessed value seems reasonable.
We appreciate the continued understanding and support of property owners across Hart County.
Submitted by Bill Capiefor the Board of Assessors