Columbia County property owners who experienced sticker shock when they received their tax assessment notices in May have one more day to file an appeal.
Those disagreeing with their assessment must do so by e-mail, fax or a letter postmarked no later than Monday to the Columbia County Board of Tax Assessors Office in Building C of the Evans Government Complex on Ronald Reagan Drive.
This year, the county's property tax digest grew in value by an average of 10 percent, said David Clem, the county's assistant chief appraiser. On May 12, the county's tax assessor's office mailed notices to the more than 38,000 property owners of the 45,000 tracts in Columbia County.
Since then, about 300 property owners have appealed their property tax assessments, Clem said.
The appeals process has not gone off without a hitch.
In the first few days after mailing notices, 2005 property assessment values were still displayed on the county Web site, Clem said.
"That was confusing to people who were comparing their assessment notice values, which was an '06 value, to their neighbor's, which was an '05 value (on the Web site)," he said.
That problem has since been corrected and this year's property tax assessments are available online at www.columbiacountyga.gov, he said.
Most of the assessment appeals have been made because owners thought the valuation was too high, Clem said.
Property tax assessments are made by comparing a piece of property to the sales of others nearby, Clem said.
"We look at (the property) and compare it to any sales in the area and send (our assessment) on to the board of assessors with a recommended no change if we have sufficient data to support our values," he said.
But if a taxpayer points out a discrepancy in their assessment - for instance, listing more bedrooms or bathrooms than there really are, or more square feet - Clem said a tax assessor will schedule an appointment to tour the property with the taxpayer to correct the problem.
"We do that quite frequently and we love that because it gets our information more up to date," he said.
In years past, Clem said his office has received a few complaints that valuations were too low.
But the assessor said that typically occurred when someone was looking to refinance their mortgage, sell their property or subject to the county purchasing land for right-of-way.
Property tax bills will be mailed Aug. 14 and taxpayers will have until noon Nov. 15 to pay, Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen said.
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