June 28-- The Toombs County Tax Assessors Office is playing catchup and it's latest property revaluations are alarming some property owners.
George Powell is chairman of the Board of Tax Assessors and says recent revaluation notices should have been done years ago.
"We should have done it about four years ago. We got pricing from an outside firm and it was going to cost the county almost $450,000. We decided because of the economic times at the time to do it in our office to save the county money and we've been working on it about two-and-a-half years now," he said.
Commercial property owners are being hit the hardest with some seeing their property values doubled or tripled.
"The commercial property has not been within the state ratios for probaby seven or eight years or more and the State Department of Revenue was at the point they were going to start levying a fine against the county.
"There were a lot of people that their commercial property went up two hundred to three hundred percent. They were way low to begin with and they're going to paying more taxes. At the same time, for all these years, they've not been paying their fair share of the county, cities' and school systems' operating budgets. Somebody else has been paying their share," Powell noted.
According to Powell, owners of rural property may see increases or decreases in their acreage values based on a productivity code employed in the revaluation.
Powell says property owners who question the new property values should contact the Tax Assessors office at the Toombs County courthouse. If they can't reach agreement, they can appeal to the Board of Tax Equalization for relief and, if thwarted there, take the case to Superior Court.
In many cases, property owners may not see a significant increase in the actual taxes they pay because taxing authorities are not allowed to reap windfall profits based on the new revaluation. Unless they want to hold public hearings and increase millage rates, they must rollback the tax rate to offset the increased value of property in the county.