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Aerial photos reveal new taxable property in Richmond County

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Homeowners might not be smiling when new aerial photos of their unreported swimming pools, garages and other additions drive their property tax bills higher this year.

But the increases, only an informed projection by Chief Appraiser Alveno Ross at this point, are hoped by some Augusta commissioners to be the answer to filling a 2012 budget shortfall slated to end city programs and eliminate jobs.

The project has been several years in the making. Augusta has had a contract with Pictometry International, which shoots images by airplane, since 2008.

Only this year, however, has the assessor’s office been able to accurately compare a sequence of the images to detect the yet-untaxed additions, Ross said.

The technology had to be adopted after 2010 changes in Georgia law began requiring annual review of all property values. The office’s cost to send an appraiser out to each of the more than 80,000 parcels in Augusta-Richmond County would have been $3.2 million, he said.

Now, it can compare the highly accurate images, made from four directions, and discern changes at greater than 99 percent accuracy, Ross said.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle, a flooring contractor, said he wasn’t surprised that some of his contractor colleagues occasionally neglect to obtain the building permits that typically alert the tax assessor’s office to the taxable additions. It happened to him several years ago.

“I thought my pool builder pulled a permit,” said Guilfoyle, who lives in Hephzibah. “You can do garages, a lot of stuff out here and it doesn’t get picked up.”

Limited resources and staff allowed some additions to sit untaxed for years, until now.

A preliminary sweep of only 239 parcels revealed unreported property valued at some $1.5 million, and subsequent comparisons continued to show a net increase in parcels’ total value, prompting Ross’ office to project a level of digest growth that if taxed, will generate at least $1.5 million in new taxes this year.

While Commissioner Corey Johnson proposed using the revenue to fill the budget gap, other commissioners including Guilfoyle and Jerry Brigham say the city shouldn’t budget money that’s not in the bank. Brigham called it “imaginary dollars” during budget discussions.

Only recently was server space allocated to carry the enormous data sets and software installed to compare the images, but Ross said the comparisons are now complete and the added value is there, Ross said.

Even if all the changes aren’t approved and incorporated into the property tax digest due Aug. 1 in Atlanta, Ross said he expects enough of them to grow the digest significantly.

“This is a first-time engagement; it gets smoother as it progresses out in the system,” he said. “We’ll give it our very best shot to max out our discovery in 2012 and the base of it we’ll pick up in 2013.”

The changes don’t reflect inflationary growth – that is, property value increases that could trigger a required roll-back in the millage rate. They are simply added value, Ross said.

The office isn’t out to catch hidden revenue; rather, it continuously strives for accurate valuations, he said.

“Let me emphasize the charge to the board of assessors is to have accurate parcel data,” Ross said, noting instances where the imagery detects structures that no longer are present.

Finance Director Donna Williams, who works closely with the budgeting process but isn’t involved in assessing property or collecting taxes, said she is “hopeful” the additions are realized.

“I have no doubt that there is property out there that is not on the tax rolls,” Williams said. The question is “is there a big enough window of time to be able to get the benefits of the project on the digest,” she said.

Once approved, the digest’s valuations are used by Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick to bill property owners.

The commission is expected to review decisions about cutting the budget or funding the shortfall at a February retreat.

Comments (27) Add comment
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seenitB4
87235
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seenitB4 01/27/12 - 07:03 pm
0
0
Oh no...the eye in the sky

Oh no...the eye in the sky will be a spy..

seenitB4
87235
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seenitB4 01/27/12 - 07:04 pm
0
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So...you guys with that extra

So...you guys with that extra outhouse will have to pay......I guess they will see the stills in the woods too. ouch.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/27/12 - 07:28 pm
0
0
So, Big Brother expects to

So, Big Brother expects to take another $1.5 million from taxpayers, but how much did Big Brother pay for this project "several years in the making"?

Think we will break even?

Rob Pavey
552
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Rob Pavey 01/27/12 - 07:28 pm
0
0
time to put the hot tub in

time to put the hot tub in 'stealth mode.'

seenitB4
87235
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seenitB4 01/27/12 - 08:04 pm
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0
Yep Rob.....they will hover

Yep Rob.....they will hover over your place for sure...:)

Pu239
284
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Pu239 01/27/12 - 09:59 pm
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0
CAMOUFLAUGE!
Unpublished

CAMOUFLAUGE!

dichotomy
32950
Points
dichotomy 01/27/12 - 10:27 pm
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0
"it continuously strives for

"it continuously strives for accurate valuations"

Nobody in RC has had an accurate valuation since the real estate crash began in 2007.

While you are flying around up there, how about an update on how many new residences you find on that 7000 acres in south RC you forcibly rezoned to residential and raised the taxes on 10 years ago. Why don't you take that "accurate valuation" and stick it in........ your pipe and smoke it.

KSL
129497
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KSL 01/27/12 - 10:34 pm
0
0
LOL, di.

LOL, di.

Dixieman
14943
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Dixieman 01/27/12 - 11:13 pm
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0
Why the fuss? Those caught

Why the fuss? Those caught are cheaters, breaking the law, and every dollar they saves comes out of your pocket and mine. I say make them pay double taxes for all years they failed to report improvements!

Riverman1
83935
Points
Riverman1 01/27/12 - 11:30 pm
0
0
There's a requirement to

There's a requirement to report an added pool or garage to the tax office?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/27/12 - 11:31 pm
0
0
Why the fuss? When the

Why the fuss?

When the commission's list of wasteful spending extends from here to south Georgia, I can think of a few reasons to fuss.

They're going to take another $1.5 million from taxpayers, so commissioners can fund a "collaboration center," conferences around the country, teams of outside attorneys, a broken (at best) procurement department and study after study after study.

Riverman1
83935
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Riverman1 01/27/12 - 11:38 pm
0
0
So is it a fact, home

So is it a fact, home improvements personally done by an owner have to have permits?

itsanotherday1
43192
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itsanotherday1 01/28/12 - 12:18 am
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0
Yes.

Yes.

itsanotherday1
43192
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itsanotherday1 01/28/12 - 12:21 am
0
0
Amen Dichotomy. They are glee

Amen Dichotomy. They are glee to squeeze you for every dime on improvements, but has anyone seen a reduction on appraisals sinc ethe crash?

dichotomy
32950
Points
dichotomy 01/28/12 - 12:25 am
0
0
Do the commissioners have to

Do the commissioners have to get a permit every time they build Billy and Paul a new building? That ought to keep the permit department busy.

dichotomy
32950
Points
dichotomy 01/28/12 - 12:40 am
0
0
Maybe if they find another

Maybe if they find another $1.5 million they can pay off the lien on the land where the parking deck is built. That would make the real owner happy. Idiots! Our commissioners are idiots.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 01/28/12 - 07:50 am
0
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Time to start mowing messages

Time to start mowing messages in the grass.

seenitB4
87235
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seenitB4 01/28/12 - 08:02 am
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LOL...Yeh...I can imagine

LOL...Yeh...I can imagine what the messages would say..heh

This is the reason the caves in the North Ga Mountains came in handy....:)
Yep...you just can't get away from daddie government.....can they see through your walls with certain detectors?? Some say they can tell what room you are in at any time & what you are doing there..YIKES!

Riverman1
83935
Points
Riverman1 01/28/12 - 08:14 am
0
0
This kind of goes back to my

This kind of goes back to my pet peeve about government intrusion with GPS tracking, cameras at intersections and DUI checkpoints. Now we have photos being taken of our houses and property. Sheesh, where does it end. Remember what I said about not funding such invasive technology? That's how to handle all these invasions or our privacy.

Think about why they are doing this. Because one county department doesn't enforce the issuance of permits or, MUCH MORE LIKELY, doesn't give the permit info to the tax office or probably doesn't even have a policy to pass on information if I know Richmond County, citizens are subject to photos of their property. Invasion of privacy...once again.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 01/28/12 - 08:16 am
0
0
If you want to have some fun,
Unpublished

If you want to have some fun, open the GIS and look at the valuation and tax assesment for some of the propertys on the hill. It is amazing the low values some of that property is assessed at. I wonder what the bank pays for property taxes on the property next door, that was destroyed by a former Teaparty member before they left in the middle of the night for Washington state.

smartasugarsugar
139
Points
smartasugarsugar 01/28/12 - 08:52 am
0
0
one thing that eye in the sky

one thing that eye in the sky picks up is the inflatable pools, we got assessed for a pool and a overhead cover that were both ok'd by the city. they adjusted it later.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 01/28/12 - 09:24 am
0
0
I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE, AND I

I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE, AND I WILL SAY IT AGAIN.......Augusta needs a SERIOUS taxpayer revolt and ousting of its local crooks (politicians). The have proven themselves over and over again as inept management, not capable of consistent decisions; anytime they run into a "shortfall", there answer is not better management, it is "squeeze more money out of a decreasing tax base." Augustans, when will you learn that ignoring them will not make them go away. Augusta citizens need a moratorium for about a year, collectively open a non profit escrow account....pay your taxes there, but keep them tied up and unaccessble to the city of Augusta until real change comes about..

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/28/12 - 09:56 am
0
0
What other "activity" are

What other "activity" are they catching in these photos?

For instance, if your teenage daughter is hanging out at the pool, does someone in the marble palace now have photos of her?

jaxco
0
Points
jaxco 01/28/12 - 11:40 am
0
0
If you have a 'shortfall' -

If you have a 'shortfall' - cut your spending, it is not the government's money!!

Rob Pavey
552
Points
Rob Pavey 01/28/12 - 02:16 pm
0
0
insider info, I know your

insider info, I know your comment was kind of a joke, but the resolution of serial/satellite photos today is incredible. in the online tax map aerials, I can zoom in on my house, literally right down to the roof of my truck and the flowerbeds.

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 01/28/12 - 03:15 pm
0
0
Since there is some humor

Since there is some humor here I wonder if they took my picture in the backyard relieving myself. Didn't want to climb the stairs!! LOL!

Kendrick has got to figure out a way to replace the money stolen in the unlocked safe caper!!

Rob is right it is incredible what you can see on these photos especially if your yard is slim on trees!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 01/28/12 - 05:44 pm
0
0
Ummm...yeah, a joke. Our

Ummm...yeah, a joke.

Our city government has employees convicted of "manslaughter, drug violations, sex crimes and even a contract murder," among many other felons, according to the Chronicle.

Is it really far-fetched to believe there isn't someone with nefarious intentions with access to these photos?

I'm just saying when we give government great power we should consider what can be done with it.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 01/28/12 - 06:37 pm
0
0
Now y'all KNOW that those

Now y'all KNOW that those fine up-standing folks that work for the government would ever abuse their power nor would they even think of doing something unethical. They are on your side and are here to help.

RUserious1
9
Points
RUserious1 01/28/12 - 08:26 pm
0
0
Ummmm..why can't they just

Ummmm..why can't they just use Google maps to do this? Lots of detail and it's free.

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