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Spike in Richmond County values delivers shocks

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Despite a down economy, many south Augusta property owners are surprised to learn, via the tax assessor's office, that their property values have risen.

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This Blythe-area residence shot up more than $30,000 during a recent reassessment.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
This Blythe-area residence shot up more than $30,000 during a recent reassessment.

The notices, mailed May 12, caused sticker shock in areas of new development and in parts of Richmond County still in farmland.

Barbara Hundley was taken aback when the value of her home on 3.6 acres near Blythe increased by $32,300.

"It just makes me feel like politicians are taking advantage of us hard-working, red-blooded Americans," said Hundley, a retiree whose husband built the brick house before he died.

Where she lives, part of a larger tract first deeded by King George to her ancestors, the county provides no services.

"I mean, none," she said. "I have to put my own newspapers in the recycling."

Hundley is one of more than 22,000 property owners notified their property values had increased.

She plans to appeal the reassessment, and owners of 388 parcels already had filed appeals last week.

The board of assessors took care to ensure its method of revaluing properties was fair, said Charles Smith, the board's chairman since 2003.

Inaccurate land schedules had been in use in several areas, including agricultural districts and the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem redevelopment zone.

The schedules, used to gauge the price of land, saw some big changes this year. For large agricultural or forested tracts, the price per acre increased from $1,200 to as much as $2,700, Smith said.

The office used its nine-person staff to assess all the properties except for agricultural land, for which it hired an outside firm, Smith said.

Land values also went up in the historic Laney-Walker neighborhood, where many dilapidated properties are targeted for redevelopment under a city-guided plan.

The land schedules, unchanged in 15 or 20 years, increased lot values to $15,000 or more where private nonprofit groups have built new homes, said Donna Murray, the deputy chief appraiser.

The lots where older homes still stand remain around $2,500.

Assessors looked at neighborhoods all over south Augusta -- Laney-Walker, Bethlehem, Turpin Hill, Pepperidge, Apple Valley, the cities of Hephzibah and Blythe, Diamond Lakes and beyond.

A factor that sent some values down was the number of foreclosures.

Houses that sold at auction for lower values or had been damaged or destroyed by residents during a foreclosure affected the value of neighboring properties, Murray said.

The city mailed 11,383 notices to owners whose properties had fallen in value, and sent 289 to owners of new properties. Owners whose properties did not change received no notice.

Residents of new south Augusta subdivisions such as Manchester, near Diamond Lakes, saw a rise in property values. Among them, Commissioner Alvin Mason was surprised to find his new house's value had gone up $65,000.

The board had considered performing a countywide revaluation of all 80,000 parcels but decided against it in light of the inaccurate land schedules, the resignation of Chief Appraiser Calvin Hicks last year and the death in February of administrative assistant Christine Smith, Charles Smith said.

Instead, it decided to update the schedules and "make the adjustments we know we need to make," while remaining in compliance with state law, he said.

New subdivisions and properties add to Augusta's taxable digest, though no growth in the digest is projected this year, Smith said.

After a decade of growth, the digest shrank 0.3 percent last year.

Elsewhere around the country, cities are seeing percentage decreases in the double digits. Augusta is "very blessed" to maintain such stability in property values, Smith said.

The office will finalize the digest, removing tax-exempt properties, adding personal property and making other adjustments before forwarding it to the Augusta Commission and the county board of education, which set the millage.

Property owners appealing the reassessment must have a reason -- either the value is incorrect, the property is not taxable or the value isn't consistent with similar properties.

If denied, an owner can appeal to the board of equalization, then through the court system.

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dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 06/07/10 - 03:22 am
0
0
To all upset taxpayers, our
Unpublished

To all upset taxpayers, our taxes in west augusta has been going up every year and the tax assessors always offers some cock and bull story
about how the values have been wrong over the years or augusta's property value has gone up when every other city in the country has decreased. The problem is augusta will not cut back on spending, business as usual, or cut back by layoffs of employees, the city wants
to build lavish courthouses and other projects without even considering
that the economy is terrible! The city has lost sales tax revenue so they
just pass it on to their property holders which gey very little service from
the city/county. Police protection is a joke as well as having the county
maintain your streets. It is time to get rid of Fred Russell, the procument
director, the commissioners, tax assessors, tax commissioner, and the
person in charge of fixing roads. Vote out commissioners and vote in people that will keep spending in check. Vote out the tax commissioner for his campaign promises have gone by the wayside. By the way, the
commissioners were proud to offer free lunches for the summer pointing
out the the federal government gave 300,000. for this free program, where does this money come from---TAXPAYERS! Folks, you will be shell shocked come Jan. 2011 when all these new taxes go into law
to pay for all this nonsense that the politicians have put on the american taxpayers. Good luck and forget retiring!

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 06/07/10 - 04:49 am
0
0
Where is our new and 'Hard

Where is our new and 'Hard working' Tax Commissioner? Oh RIGHT! Steve Kendricks is trying to make up all that cash he let get stolen out of his office (not an inside job, YEAH RIGHT!) in one batch by pulling some non-sense like this during the worst economic times since the great depression. What does he care, he's not up for re-election for a couple of years anyway.

Where is the fearless Commissioner Jimmy 'Chip off the Ol' Block' Smith? Oh RIGHT! He is leaving at the end of the year so what does he care? Besides, he never saw a tax increase he didn't support. Some small businessman huh?

Where is Mayor 'Sunshine and Lollipops' Deke? Oh RIGHT! He is trying to get the assessment reduced on the Hall of Fame land so his millionaire freinds can get it from the State at a super duper bargain rate. He is up for re-election but since his main opponenet will most likely be 'black' he knows (thinks) most all these south augusta folks will vote for him anyway. He lives in Connifer Place anyway, so what does he REALLY care?

I guess countryman is right. Augusta is WAAAAYYY ahead of the rest of the nation in recovery. Heck, we are already bucking the trend of the rest of the ENTIRE country where property values dropped 25% in actual value.

All kidding aside, they should wait to do these 'long overdue adjustments' till after things are better in our country and county. It is a DUMB move to anything but CUT taxes during an economic downturn.

I think this has more to do with Steve Kendricks trying to make a name for himself than anything else. Well he is doing just that, as a 'raise taxes' so the government has more to watse kinda guy. No surprises there.

This is just so much rubbish,

Brad

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 06/07/10 - 04:16 am
0
0
dickworth, Well said, I agree

dickworth,

Well said, I agree 100%.

Brad

catfish20
294
Points
catfish20 06/07/10 - 04:42 am
0
0
The value of my property went

The value of my property went up $24,000.00. I would sell it tomorrow if I could get the county assessed price for it.

nofrills
0
Points
nofrills 06/07/10 - 05:07 am
0
0
The tax office needs to find

The tax office needs to find another way to raise the funds their budget has fallen short of. Every thing in america has gone down except the value of my house? Are we really that stupid?

KNECKBONE
28
Points
KNECKBONE 06/07/10 - 05:21 am
0
0
what next oil slick on

what next oil slick on savannah river

blondietoo007
0
Points
blondietoo007 06/07/10 - 10:32 am
0
0
The county came to my house

The county came to my house to reevaluate; they had the sq ft wrong, the number of bedrooms and baths wrong (more than actual). But was pleased when they discovered that my garage (which has a door but it's not big enough for my suv, so a storage bldg - really, was larger than documented. Well, my value went down - which is fine - but now I think that I am owed a refund for their incorrect charges... but nope, not how they see it....
When the govt already gets 40% of my paycheck, increased values may have sent me over the edge..

puppydog
228
Points
puppydog 06/07/10 - 12:02 pm
0
0
"Despite a down economy, many

"Despite a down economy, many south Augusta property owners are surprised to learn, via the tax assessor's office, that their property values have risen."

Why does this article state that only south augusta tax values went up? I live in West Augusta and I just got a letter in the mail from the Tax Commissioners office stating that the value of my house is being increased by $50,000. It has already been increased several times in the past few years. This is ridiculous! Do the Tax assessors not know that most people are having to LOWER the asking prices of their houses if they want to even think about selling them, then they usually sit unsold for years before the homeowner has to just lower the price drastically to sell it. The Tax assessor's office is living in the Twilight zone. Housing values should be decreased, not increased on the tax digest. Someone needs to investigate the tax assessors office for incompetence and for having no clue as to what is going on in the real world.

puppydog
228
Points
puppydog 06/07/10 - 12:04 pm
0
0
There is no way I could sell

There is no way I could sell my house for the new value the Tax assessor has just increased it to.

dichotomy
37624
Points
dichotomy 06/07/10 - 01:56 pm
0
0
My guess is that they have

My guess is that they have absolutely no facts to justify the increases in property values. We all know that the housing market is down....way down, even here is "we are doing great" Augusta. We need to put all of these clowns out of office. We need a property owner's class action lawsuit against the tax commissioner and make them prove their valuations. We need representatives that will change the tax laws to where they cannot arbitrarily raise property values on some tracts to make up for lower values on other tracts due to foreclosures, which is just what has gone on. The fact is that ALL property values have gone down in the past two years and they are still going down. Nobody's property values or land values have gone up. And we are damned stupid for letting the money hungry politicians in the marble palace tell us they have.

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 06/07/10 - 02:07 pm
0
0
my house in their system,

my house in their system, using their comparables, in their software, is 200k less than what they are taxing me on. since they will not raise or lower my assesment i have no right to appeal. this is proof that they are
FOS and care only about parasitic govt. i will join anyone that wants to
sue. more and more the state is becoming our enemy. us vs them.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 06/07/10 - 02:15 pm
0
0
I so wish I could say I was

I so wish I could say I was surprised. When I filed, the county sent two clowns out who measured my property and the exterior of my house. About two weeks later, I received a letter stating the assessment was correct, and if I wanted to file before the board I would have to submit additional justification to the board. I did. With photos and a paragraph accompanying each by way of explanation. Almost six weeks after the board met I received a registered ( @ almost $7.00 postage) letter saying the board had considered my appeal, and would I kindly drop dead?

No, really, they didn't say that- but it did say if I did not accept their decision, I should hire an attorney and appeal. Unh-hunh. And that, gentle readers, is why less than two percent of appeals filed on properties under $200,000. were successful, while properties over 500k were regularly looked upon by the board with favor.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/07/10 - 04:06 pm
0
0
Shocked? Lol. No one is

Shocked? Lol. No one is shocked, and if they are, then they aren't smart enough read this article anyway...

dichotomy
37624
Points
dichotomy 06/07/10 - 04:45 pm
0
0
In this economy, with this

In this economy, with this housing market, telling people that the value of their property has increased is nothing less than a violent assualt assault on them. It is a violent assault because it is done by people we did not elect, don't know, and have little or no recourse against. Maybe it's time people started taking this property tax situation a little more personal and started doing whatever it takes to correct the attitudes of these people who take our money from us and hide behind unfair and unequal laws that are stacked against us. Our property taxes are assessed based on selective valuations and selective appeal approvals. The entire system is crooked. In good times they tell you your property values went up because of sales comparisons with similar properties. In bad times, when sales comps are way down, they tell you your property taxes went up because of "rebuild" costs or that somehow your land just became majically tripled in value. The property tax system is a crooked crock of crap and our local tax board is shoving our face in it. It is an arbitrary system not based on ANY proveable value. You know it, I know it, and they know it and we all smile stupidly at each other and act like we have a fair and equitable property tax system. We need a law that would require the county to buy your property for the tax valuation if you lose a valuation appeal and wish to sell them the property for that price. THAT would get the valuations back in line with what the property was actually worth. Everyone who got an increase should be filing an appeal. You won't win but it doesn't cost anything and maybe you can make their lives miserable and cost them lots of money making copies and buying folders and stuff. If you're wealthy, sue the crap out of them.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/07/10 - 06:41 pm
0
0
Johnny Edwards put his home

Johnny Edwards put his home up for sale for the appraised price. Its still for sale the last time I spoke with him. Check his City Core blog for the whole story.

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 06/07/10 - 08:53 pm
0
0
Why be shocked? It's Richmond

Why be shocked? It's Richmond County, what else do you really expect? I'll be shocked when they do something that makes sense!!!!!

catfish20
294
Points
catfish20 06/07/10 - 09:14 pm
0
0
Brad, Kendrick only collects

Brad,
Kendrick only collects the taxes...Bill Lee, Robert O'Neill, James Scott, Charles Smith, etc. are the Board of Tax Assessors....

corgimom
38746
Points
corgimom 06/07/10 - 09:17 pm
0
0
If the AC really wanted to

If the AC really wanted to win a Pulitzer, they could do an indepth series on the corruption THAT IN MY OPINION, EXISTS in the assessor's office.

"Among them, Commissioner Alvin Mason was surprised to find his new house's value had gone up $65,000."
How does a new house appreciate by $65,000 in one year?

Aiken County tried to do that to me, too. I was the first owner in the subdivision- and the next year the valuation was raised by $20,000- with houses being built just a few lots down for the original price. I appealed and won.

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 06/08/10 - 03:43 am
0
0
catfish20, Steve is elected

catfish20,

Steve is elected and runs the office. To say he has no imput is not correct. He could speak out against these back door tax increases, and that is all this is.

Brad

Nuwbee
0
Points
Nuwbee 06/08/10 - 07:25 am
0
0
wrong again brad. tax

wrong again brad. tax assessor (currently smith sitting in for hicks) works for the tax assessor board and city/fred russell. kendrick is an elected state/county official and has nothing to do with assessments or mill rates (school board and commission). state of ga set it up that way so the one collecting the money has nothing to do with how much is collected. catfish was right by saying the board of assessors is responsible for the newly raised values. they never hesitate to tell you that that the assessor works for them and not the tax commissioner. you missed on this one.

myparrot
18
Points
myparrot 06/08/10 - 07:32 am
0
0
As homeowners we have a right

As homeowners we have a right to file a property return every year from jan 1 to april 1. The assessors office will then come out and look over the property. many times they go out people do not answer doors they leave cards and no one calls back so they have to go by permits used by builders for info on property. If you have property file your return every year have a say in your property value. If you don't then you forgo your right to appeal. Have a voice there are laws that help you the taxpayer.

americafirst
1001
Points
americafirst 06/08/10 - 09:28 am
0
0
I appealed my reassessment a

I appealed my reassessment a couple of years ago. I used comparable recent sales to demonstrate that the valuation of my house was too high. I was told by the Board that they do not use comparable sales to appraise property. They use evaluations done by their office on other comparable properties. In other words, they used inflated property values they imposed on other comparable properties to establish the valuation of my property. It was laughable how inappropriate it was but they did not see the humor and actually thought their method was the correct one.

seabeau
33
Points
seabeau 06/08/10 - 11:16 am
0
0
Vote with your feet! Leave

Vote with your feet! Leave Richmond County!

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 06/08/10 - 11:27 am
0
0
Steve...err, I mean Nuwbe,

Steve...err, I mean Nuwbe, Not wrong again buddy. Good Ol' Steve's office will be the office collecting these new tax increases, so don't say that his office is helpless here. You...errr I mean he should speak up if you, sorry, he is against this type of back door tax hikes.

Which we all know you, I mean , HE is not. Right Bossman?

Yawn,

Brad

Nuwbee
0
Points
Nuwbee 06/08/10 - 11:42 am
0
0
i WISH i was kendrick...

i WISH i was kendrick...

REP
0
Points
REP 06/08/10 - 02:01 pm
0
0
Oh please better stay in the

Oh please better stay in the county you are in the City of Wrens didn't pay the gas bill for a few years and blew the money on other bull$$$$ and to make it up they doubled (literally doubled the millage) my city property taxes. On top of that they went up on my property valuation. 165,000 and paid a combined county and city property taxes of over $3100 so don't think its any better out of Richmond co.

countyman
21687
Points
countyman 06/08/10 - 02:12 pm
0
0
REP, TakeAstand and Seabeau

REP, TakeAstand and Seabeau don't live in Richmond county... Probably like a couple others commenting...

garner49
0
Points
garner49 06/08/10 - 02:29 pm
0
0
I agree with most the above -

I agree with most the above - just another way to stick it to the property owner that has no choice, or sell and move. And to keep the city/county bringing in the cash for their heavy and wasteful spending.

speeding
0
Points
speeding 06/08/10 - 09:36 pm
0
0
It is time to let the

It is time to let the Government know where that money comes from. I think they think they can levy all the taxes they want. Get very angry and act out.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 06/09/10 - 06:41 am
0
0
THE RESAON COMMISSIONER ALVIN

THE RESAON COMMISSIONER ALVIN MASON'S HOME INCREASED IN VALUE 65000 WAS WHEN THE HOME WAS PLACED ON THE TAX ROLLS IT WAS NOT 100% COMPLETED AT THAT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS ONLY PARTIALLY COMPLETED, WHE HE IS TRYING TO DO IS SHIFT THE BLAME OF CONSTANT TAX INCREASES FROM HIM AND THE OTHER COMMISSIONERS TO SOMEONE ELSE OR ANOTHER ENTITY

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