Originally created 09/18/02

Appeals threaten tax schedule



By Tuesday afternoon, the Richmond County Tax Assessor's office had received about 3,400 appeals of recent property revaluations, pushing the government within a few hundred protests of halting the approval of the county tax digest.

State law requires that local governments have no more than 5 percent of properties or the total tax digest in a state of appeal before a millage rate - the rate of taxation on real estate - can be adopted by a school board and city or county commission.

The assessor's office was calculating the total amount in appeal Tuesday evening. Officials expect to have the total by Friday to determine whether the county is under the 5 percent standard so they can move ahead, said Chief Appraiser Sonny Reece.

"Worst-case scenario, we could be stalling for a while, and that's one thing we don't want to do," Mr. Reece said. "We've got a couple of days we can play with, but not many."

Richmond County has about 73,000 properties. As of Monday evening, about 4 percent of assessments - 2,850 properties - were under appeal, but by Tuesday evening, the city was within about 300 appeals of being over the 5 percent threshold.

"We got a load of mail that came in, and in that mail was a lot of multiple-parcel owners with a lot of high dollar values on them," Mr. Reece said. "And we've still got some that will come in the mail through Thursday."

As long as the appeals were postmarked by the Sept. 16 deadline, the tax office will accept them.

Officials plan to adopt millage rates the first full week in October, and a tentative schedule has property tax bills being mailed out by Oct. 25, with a payment deadline of Dec. 31.

"They're trying to get everything done by the end of the week," Mayor Bob Young said of the assessor's office. "They're working overtime downstairs."

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or heidi.williams@augustachronicle.com.