Recently we have been hearing a great deal from Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross on how much he has done for Columbia County residents and how much he has saved us in property taxes.
In his June water bill insert, Cross listed a chart from 2003 to 2009 showing a total millage rate from 7.70 in 2003 to 9.637 in 2009. The insert then states, "As you can determine from the table, the basic tax rate has not increased, actually declined."
I was taught that 9.637 was a greater number than 7.70. Hence, there has indeed been an increase in Columbia County taxes in the last eight years. The only rate to decrease in eight years is the school millage, which is separate.
Not only has the mill rate increased but the assessed value of our properties has increased, even while the fair market value has fallen. Cross insists that unlike the rest of the nation, Columbia County property has increased in value. It is just not so. Based on statistics compiled by the National Association of Realtors, the average sales price of a residential property in Columbia County in 2007 was $209,272; in 2008 the average was $198,905; and the average in 2009 was $189,755. ...
So, even though Cross stated in the June water bill insert, "In a fast-growing county such as Columbia County, the demand for property is high and, therefore, prices increase and, as a result, taxes increase." Only the taxes have increased, not the value or the demand for property in Columbia County.
Indeed, as for the demand for Columbia County property, I will again defer to the National Association of Realtors. The average time on market for a property in 2007 was 130 days, in 2008 it was 145 days, and 2009 it was 159 days. This does not include those properties that did not sell, such as those that were repossessed, withdrawn from the market or where the listing expired.
Cross also stated there was a $25,000 savings for the construction of the Georgia State Patrol Post. ... The county actually spent $1,786,821.93, not the $1,575,000 which Cross quoted in the water bill insert. If our tax dollars are going to be used to print and mail an insert in our water bills, then Cross needs to at least be honest with the information that he is printing. ...
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