Tax woes for Savannah 'Extreme Makover' home

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SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Overdue property taxes on the “Extreme Makeover” house were paid in full Monday, removing a tax lien Chatham County issued March 1 on the property of Jim and Carmen Simpson.

The 2011 taxes had been due Nov. 15 on the Victorian style home that hundreds of Savannah-area volunteers helped build in late 2010 after the family was chosen for the since-canceled ABC program “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” A fundraiser for the family also paid off their previous mortgage.

On Monday morning, the Chatham County bill of $8,028.81 was paid with a cashier’s check. The bill reflected $1,067 in penalties, interest and fees, including

1 percent interest added Friday. The Savannah property tax bill of $3,421.66, which also included interest because it was four months overdue, was also paid in full the same morning with a cashier’s check.

Jim Simpson said he paid off both with his own funds.

Public records list the fair market value of the four-bedroom, three-bath house on East 55th Street as $664,400.

Jim Simpson, who is the pastor of the storefront City Church Savannah and who runs a small business called Shift Creative, said last week the property taxes were higher than he had expected and that the issue of paying them was a matter of “cash flow.” He estimated on March 12 it would take him two to three weeks more to pay. Instead, the taxes were paid the next business day after the lien was reported in the Savannah Morning News.

In an e-mail Monday he elaborated on his family’s situation, saying that while they remained thankful for the house it had brought unexpected challenges including large electric bills despite the home’s solar panels.

“Through the summer we were blown away with monthly utilities over $700 and sometimes $800,” he wrote. “While Georgia Power and J.T. Turner Construction have been diligent to help resolve this issue the fact is we are just having to adjust our lifestyles. During the winter those bills were 60 percent less even when we ran the pool heater. It wasn’t until summer that they jumped so high. Please, I don’t want to sound ungrateful. We love the house. We are just currently adjusting.”

The Simpsons also recently welcomed their fourth child, Ezra Joel, who was born a month and a half premature and who was released from Memorial University Medical Center on Saturday after a two-week stay.

“The Lord saw fit for Ezra to be born premature and he has responded well to the treatments in Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Center and we celebrated Saturday as he was allowed to come home,” Simpson wrote. “Carmen and Ezra are both home now. Praise God for that! Still, please imagine the burden, mentally, spiritually and financially that this has been.”

Simpson’s graphic design, audio-visual and computer business employs five people, but the “current economy has left its challenges,” he said. The church he founded, from which he does not draw a salary, ministers mainly to SCAD students who “pay little or no tithes and offerings into the church.” He’s was aware of other Extreme Makeover homeowners who had lost their houses to foreclosure, including one recently in Palatka, Fla. He doesn’t intend to become one of them.

“Our house is a wonderful blessing and we are doing everything we can to keep it the way it is because our city and our neighbors have quite an investment in it,” he wrote. “I don’t have any reason to think our house is in any danger like that of the case in Florida. We love our house and Savannah and we are working very hard to keep our family happy and healthy; our church is growing and providing a source of life to the community. Our small business continues growing, which provides the resources to do things like paying our taxes.”

Simpson said he has set up an escrow account for future taxes.

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stillamazed
1493
Points
stillamazed 03/21/12 - 07:51 am
1
1
Maybe they need to sell the

Maybe they need to sell the house and downsize. I mean if you are in a situation where you can't pay your taxes or high electric maybe it is time to regroup. I am sure the value of the house is more than enough to pay for something within their means. Sometimes we have to face hard facts in life even though we may not want to admit it. I often think what if I won one of those multimillion dollar homes on Lifetime, I probably would not be able to pay the taxes on it ........I wish them luck and hope it all works out.

dstewartsr
20394
Points
dstewartsr 03/21/12 - 08:50 am
1
2
The problem here is not the

The problem here is not the value of the house, splendid though it may be. My own modest dwelling, purchased thirty-five years ago, now costs six percent of purchase price every year solely in taxes. This is before ever more rapacious insurance and ever-rising utilities. This is the result of decades of "It's just a few dollars more on a property tax bill," thinking. This is no different than compounding interest, only we property owners are the ones paying it.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 03/21/12 - 10:24 am
0
0
Maybe he should turn off the

Maybe he should turn off the pool heater and save money when his utility bills are lower.

happychimer
26272
Points
happychimer 03/21/12 - 10:24 am
0
0
I would not want a big house.

I would not want a big house.

bdouglas
7262
Points
bdouglas 03/21/12 - 11:51 am
0
0
Makes me wonder if there's

Makes me wonder if there's some kind of clause in the Extreme Makeover agreement that says you aren't allowed to sell the house for X number of years (or ever?) or something. You never really hear of one of those home being on the market for sale or anything, only about the homes being foreclosed. Seems like if any of the folks who have these homes were in deep enough to enter into foreclosure, they would've had plenty of notice to attempt to sell the house when things started going south.

TNTHOMSON
2
Points
TNTHOMSON 03/21/12 - 01:30 pm
0
0
The home owner "had large

The home owner "had large electric bills despite the home’s solar panels"??

Perhaps Obama can have a wind turbine (made in China of course) installed in Simpson's back yard to help with his utility bills.

dichotomy
46810
Points
dichotomy 03/21/12 - 01:40 pm
0
0
Property taxes are an evil

Property taxes are an evil thing. They allow a greedy government to force people out of homes they have already paid for and thought they were secure in for the rest of their lives.

My RC property taxes have more than quadrupled since Consolidation and I get less services. The cops don't respond to calls anymore and the new fire chief wants to send out 2 rookies in a station wagon.

The tax "valuation" of my property has gone up even though the "market" value of my property has gone down. I suppose that had something to do with that 40,000 gallon chlorine tank the county put up beside my house with the orange windsock on it so the HAZMAT team will know which way to run.

The school taxes have quadrupled and the quality of the school system has hit the bottom of the barrel.

Now explain to me again why we have to pay property taxes. We certainly get nothing for it. In fact, it looks like they do everything they can to hurt us.

dstewartsr
20394
Points
dstewartsr 03/21/12 - 04:49 pm
0
0
I 'get' property taxes to

I 'get' property taxes to some extent; the city does provide fire and police protection. The county? Well, they do build things, mostly in Evans. The state? Well, someone has to pay for Atlanta roads and such. What gets me is the escalation. My valuation has never gone down, despite none of the houses in my neighborhood being sold at an asking of 85-90% of valuation. How, precisely, does that work?

Think of it this way; my evil, greedy, bloodsucking capitalistic pig of a bank charged me five and a quarter percent interest to loan me the money to buy my home. The taxes though are SIX percent and no one seems to think they're anything but worthy.

After 27 years of payments, though, the house was mine. All that time I've been paying taxes to city/county/state and it will go on forever.

Sweet son
14778
Points
Sweet son 03/21/12 - 05:04 pm
0
0
It looks good on ABC but the

It looks good on ABC but the network should not be making over houses to such an extravagant degree that the receipents can't pay the taxes. Kinda like going on a game show and winning an expensive car. It is all well and good untill you have to pay gift taxes on your new ride

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