Fluctuating Thurmond Lake levels challenge tax assessors

Friday, June 8, 2012 3:56 PM
Last updated Saturday, June 9, 2012 2:34 AM
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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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JohnBrownAug 06/08/12 - 05:15 pm
Also, keep in mind the

Also, keep in mind the fluctuating water levels along the river, especially in the coves. One house can be sitting on the banks of deepwater while those next to it or across the cove are not.

JRC2024 06/09/12 - 08:51 am
I wonder if the people who

I wonder if the people who have homes for sale at the lake will lower the price because of the low water. I doubt it

daphne3520 06/09/12 - 12:54 pm
Thurmond Lake

I live in Sweetwater...I wonder, somewhat rhetorically, can my property be reassessed to lower my taxes because of the decade long drought we are suffering?

yu nah ee tah
yu nah ee tah 06/09/12 - 07:46 pm
Here is how the LC tax assessor describes the depth of water

at a dock location, (size LIF modified to protect the appellant) Please note the word "random":

"The code fields are for land influence adjustments that adjust the base land value
assigned to a parcel. There are 7 fields that can be used on any parcel if needed,
when the wingap software was implemented by the dept of revenue support agents 7
random influence reasons were placed on each parcel. The only ones used are the ones
that have a number to the right of each reason that’s not a 1.00 or 0.00. As in your
property card below 2 influences are used, size of 0.8 (-20%) to adjust for the lot
being smaller than the normal , and
0.90 (-10%) for water which takes into consideration distance to the 330 pool level
and depth of water at dock location."

End of Quote from the Lincoln County tax assessor, "size" modified to protect the appellant.

The problem is that the Ga Dept of Revenue calls these fields "Land influence factors" and the Tax assessor calls them "Random Influence Reasons" which describes how he assigns them. That is the problem, not the lake level. Lincoln County has no procedure for assigning these values that directly affect lake front property taxes. The "random influence reason" water- is not consistent at all. The Dept of Revenue wrote up the tax assessor for not having any procedure for controlling these fields. The "water" factor is for theoretical full pool - 330'msl and has nothing to do with drought/water level.

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