Columbia County homeowners routinely get visits from the tax assessor, but this year many residents will have advance notice.
Debbie Robertson, the county's chief tax assessor, has begun posting areas scheduled for visits on the county's Web site.
"The purpose of these site visits is to update the property record which enables our office to more accurately determine fair market values or make other determinations as required by law," the notice said.
Appraisers who inspect and photograph properties will gather information that is used to adjust the fair market value of property, which in turn can affect how much the owner must pay in property taxes.
"We try to look at every property every year for anything that's new or remodeled, or has been removed or fallen into disrepair," she said. "The notice is giving notice that we will be in their area or on their property."
This year, however, the process of determining tax bills will be more complicated because of a new state moratorium on increases and pending changes in the homestead exemption program, she said.
"We still have to maintain a fair market value for the state portion of the property tax and for the state Audit Department," she said.
In some cases, fair market value could increase but the assessed taxable value -- on which the taxpayer pays taxes -- would remain the same or decrease, she said.
Exceptions could include cases where the owner has added something that increases value or where the assessor missed such improvements in previous years.
"We're making changes in our software system to handle this," she said, adding that those changes will delay the mailing of tax assessment notices.
"We usually mail them the second week in May, but this year it will probably be in June," she said.
About 40,000 property owners will receive notices this year, she said.
Areas scheduled for visits during the next 90 days include Orchard Hill off Columbia Road; Brandywine and Farmington subdivisions off Hereford Farm Road; and selected map and parcel numbers posted on the Web site.
Members of the appraisal team will have photo identification and will not require access to the interior of buildings.
Homeowners might be asked questions. For more information on the process, call (706) 312-7474.
Reach Rob Pavey at 9706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHERE THEY'RE GOING
Areas scheduled for visits in the next 90 days include:
- Orchard Hill Subdivision
- Brandywine Subdivision
- Farmington Subdivision
- Blackstone Camp Road
Source: Columbia County Tax Assessors Office