Originally created 06/13/06

Tax digest offers little cheer



Augusta Commission members looking for ways to solve this year's $5 million budget deficit shouldn't look for growth in the value of the county's property as a solution.

Richmond County Board of Assessors Chairman Charles Smith told the city's finance committee Monday that preliminary figures indicate about 1 percent growth in the tax digest over last year.

Though residential values have increased, commercial real estate values have decreased $24.3 million.

Industrial personal property is expected to decrease $20.8 million, and motor vehicles $16.8 million.

Mr. Smith said the figures are not final because the assessor's office is still receiving appeals from 2006 reassessment notices. Property owners have until July 6 to appeal. In addition, the assessor's office does not yet know the exact numbers on personal property.

"While the digest shows some growth, there are a number of factors that indicate that this will certainly change, and it could very well be less than what we have now," Mr. Smith said. "And I'd rather have us be thinking at this point that it will be less than thinking it's going to be more. We have no way of knowing."

Commissioner Jerry Brigham wanted to know why there was a $24.3 million drop in commercial real estate values.

"Did we lose something major?" he asked.

Deputy Chief Appraiser Donna Murray said the drop resulted from revaluations and depreciation on some commercial buildings.

"So the values decreased," she said. "We haven't had much growth in commercial."

Mr. Brigham then asked whether the $20.8 million decrease in industrial personal property was a result of inventory reductions.

Mr. Smith said a couple of industries had reduced inventory.

Mr. Brigham also questioned the $16.8 million reduction in motor vehicles.

Mr. Smith said those were figures were from the tax commissioner's office.

"They say a lot of people are moving out of the county," Ms. Murray added.

The final tax digest, which includes all taxable property in the county, will be available at the end of July, Mr. Smith said.

This year, 25 percent of the properties in the county were reassessed, with a fair-market value increase of $415 million and a 40 percent assessed value increase of $166.3 million, according to Ms. Murray.

Of 16,733 assessment-change notices mailed in May, 47 percent were on properties in south Augusta, 33 percent in west Augusta, none in east Augusta, 3 percent downtown and 17 percent in the Summerville area.

The total increase over last year is estimated to be $46.9 million.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

TAX DIGEST CHANGES


Preliminary data show Richmond County's tax digest grew 1 percent from 2005 to 2006:


2006 digest: $4,574,985,663


2005 digest: $4,527,999,453


Difference: $46,986,210 (1 percent)


Source: Countywide consolidation sheet figures


RICHMOND COUNTY TAX DIGEST


According to preliminary 2006 data, the county's tax digest has increased by 1 percent. Not all categories are listed.

2006 2005 Difference % change
REAL PROPERTY
Residential $2,097,616,863 $2,003,909,845 $93,707,018 4.7
Agriculture 35,131,098 37,347,228 -2,216,130 -5.9
Commercial 1,049,181,127 1,073,487,878 -24,306,751 -2.3
Industrial 54,338,354 53,256,621 1,081,733 2.0
Total 3,252,355,006 3,180,938,689 71,416,317 2.2
PERSONAL
Residential 7,116,426 7,019,508 96,918 1.4
Agriculture 1,194,174 1,009,768 184,406 18
Commercial 434,956,727 421,434,760 13,521,967 3.2
Industrial 418,498,907 439,379,876 -20,880,969 -4.8
Total 861,766,234 868,843,912 -7,077,678 -0.8
UTILITIES 131,172,307 132,703,774 -1,531,467 -1.2
MOTOR VEHICLES 302,058,830 318,928,750 -16,869,920 -5.3
MOBILE HOMES 25,568,288 25,626,510 -58,222 -0.2
HEAVY EQUIPMENT 83,573 106,977 -23,404 -22
Grand Total 4,574,985,663 4,527,999,453 46,986,210 1.0

Source: Countywide consolidation sheet figures