Fluctuating Thurmond Lake levels challenge tax assessors

Thurmond Lake’s fluctuating water levels would be difficult to use in assigning tax values to lakefront lots, says a state-supervised performance review of the Lincoln County Board of Tax Assessors.

The 20-page review stemmed from complaints by some residents of the county that low water erodes property values to the point that assessments should be re-examined.

The review was begun in January and completed May 30 by a three-member board appointed by the Georgia Depart­ment of Revenue to verify the competency and accuracy of the county’s assessment program.

“In all discussions with the officials interviewed, it would seem that water levels in Strom Thurmond Lake have a large influence on both sales tax revenue and income for local businesses,” the report stated.

On the other hand, low lake levels occur frequently and typically rebound, and abundant historical data are available for landowners and the public to evaluate.

For example, the lake’s average levels were low in 2001 and 2002, rebounded in 2003 through 2005 and declined during the winter of 2006 and 2007, the report said.

The next year, water was again low, but 2009 and 2010 levels were a few feet below full.

The lake’s latest low-water cycle began last July and is forecast to continue through much of this year because of extreme drought conditions.

“Given the fluctuations in lake levels, it would be difficult for the Board of Assessors to use Strom Thur­mond Lake water levels as a direct basis for assigning factors adjusting lakefront lot values,” the board said.

The report went on to say: “Low lake levels coupled with the downturn in the economy caused a general dissatisfaction among Strom Thurmond Lake lot owners. This dissatisfaction became increasingly directed toward the BOA and property taxes.”

Thurmond Lake’s pool level was 321.36 feet above sea level Friday, more than 8 feet below the full pool.

 

 

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