HomeNewsHigher tax assessments result of increase in property values

Higher tax assessments result of increase in property values

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Augusta property owners overall saw a sharp increase in their tax assessments this year because home prices have increased drastically and many properties were undervalued for tax purposes, according to Richmond County’s chief tax appraiser.

Chief Appraiser Scott Rountree briefed Augusta commissioners about the recent assessment-change notices that prompted a barrage of phone calls from irate property owners to commissioners.

“I asked Director Rountree to come today because I think we need to educate the public on the need to increase property assessments and on the appeals process,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

“The properties around my house, they increased in value and were sold. And I get that,” he said. “But with the millage the way it is, just in my house, a $900 increase for next year. I think we really have to educate the people on the why that this is happening. I even had a 2010 car that went up in value for the first time. I’ll just have to pay an additional $90.”

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Rountree said the county has undergone a mass appraisal to bring undervalued properties up to fair market value as required by law. The appraisal uses criteria directed by the state Department of Revenue and the Georgia Code and carried out by the Richmond County appraisal staff.

The assessment process begins with statistical studies of sales that are going on in Augusta-Richmond County with comparisons of the county’s assessed values with arms-length transactions going on in the market. The studies will guide the appraisers to specific neighborhoods that are over-valued or under-valued or even lacking in uniformity, Rountree said.

“Studies we started last year using the 2021 sales and comparing them against our tax valuations indicated that by the end of the year, our assessed values were going to be 20 percent to 30 percent below fair market value, and that adjustments were going to have to be necessary,” Rountree said.

“When the entire county is showing these massive levels of appreciation, our values are starting to be much lower than they need to be. Our objective from the department of audits and the state is to be well within 10 percent of what fair market value is. And we were looking at close to 30 percent below fair market value. And those agencies are auditing us and making sure we’re staying in compliance with what’s required.

“So, we’re seeing these increases just last year. It was also in 2020, where the typical average home increased 1 percent every month over the last 24 months of 2020 and 2021.”

The changes shifted the values to 96%-97% of true fair market value. Countywide, there are 70,000 homes and about 100,000 parcels total, Rountree said.

The overall tax digest for real estate increased 18.5%, and about 88% of that was due to inflation, he said.

In 2020, the average value of homes went from $110,000 to about $140,000 to $150,000. And the actual sales going on in the market, the average home price in 2020 was about $146,000. This year, it was about $175,000, Rountree said.

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Assessment notices for 70,000 homes and other properties were mailed May 20, and appeals have already begun. Property owners have until July 5 to file an appeal.

Business personal property notices will be mailed next month, Rountree said.

Augusta commissioners will have to look at the millage rate and might have to roll it back once the appeals process is complete because the county can’t collect any more money because of the assessments without announcing a property-tax increase and holding three public meetings.

“Until after appeals are settled, you don’t know how much the rollback will be,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.

Commissioner Brandon Garrett said commissioners were blindsided by the assessment increases, and he asked Rountree whether he could give them a heads-up when such changes were coming.

Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. said higher home prices are a trend across the country and that property tax assessments have lagged behind property values. He said there shouldn’t be any knee-jerk reactions.

“I don’t think there’s anything the commission needs to do,” he said.

Sylvia Cooper is a columnist with The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected]  

15 COMMENTS

  1. BOOOOOO FOR AUGUSTA TAX PEOPLE….my property value upped 16+ % …. Sylvia, do you understand that my property did not increase 16+% 2021 to 2022 ? It may have increased that much of past five years but Tax People sat on their butts and did not raise values each year….shame on them for this shock. Wondering if prop tax values ever went DOWN such as in the Jimmy Carter years….?????

  2. My mouth dropped when my home value DOUBLED!!!! I already know that they are trying to gentrify my area because of the housing shortage. Our property values were below value for decades, now they want to make up for lost time. SMH!

  3. According to the pundits on Fox News , CNN , and MSNBC “out of control inflation is taking the United States toward a recession.”
    The Treasury Secretary was making the rounds on the news programs this morning acknowledging that she failed to see it coming months ago .

    In addition to “educating the property owners” about why the TAX ASSESSORS office is claiming that property values are “REQUIRED” by the big bad state government to be raised , the AUGUSTA COMMISSIONERS and the candidates for the Commission and Mayor should be
    1. Assuring the Augusta-Richmond County property owners that the millage
    rate will be lowered so that no property owner will pay a penny more in
    property taxes in 2022 than he paid in 2021 .
    2. Amending local ordinances as may be necessary to keep that promise .
    3.Amending the current BUDGET to reduce current spending .
    4.Eliminating unnecessary positions in county government ( bloated payroll
    is the taxPAYERS biggest enemy ).
    5.Persuading legislators and candidates for statewide office to amend the
    State’s property tax laws —- that the Tax Assessor’s office and
    COMMISSIONERS use as cover to raise property valuations and property
    TAXES .

  4. This should work out well for working families when gas hits $6.00 a gal, & hamburger is at $15.00 a lb. with no end in sight by the way.
    There must be some additional taxes that you could raise at this time as well?
    Job well done.
    Good lookin out Augusta .

  5. Now we see how the budget shortfall after the stimulus money runs out will be addressed. Our taxes will increase, but the quantity and quality of services the county provides will not. it’s like a car dealer charging additional dealer profit on a new car during COVID due to low availability. The buyer did not get a car with more options or better performance, he is just got screwed. So housing prices increased due to low availability of existing homes and skyrocketing costs of building materials due to COVID and unchecked inflation. As a Democrat politician said, ““You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

    Yet another reason for people, businesses, talent, and money to flee to Columbia County and North Augusta.

  6. Another great example of why property taxes should be done away with completely and replaced with a consumption tax. Property taxes destroy the most vulnerable in our society. The poor, those on a fixed income and even many in the middle class are being taxed out of their homes.

  7. Well that doesn’t surprise me at all when I saw two Richmond County Utilities vehicles riding around this past Sunday. Unbelievable is what it is folks. This is exactly why our taxes are sky rocketing! Nothing surprises me anymore about good ole Augusta, GA. Richmond Co……….. let me shut up before I get flagged!

  8. I will have to respectfully disagree with Mayor Hardee Davis’s comment. Mayor Davis stated ” The Commissioners did not need to do anything.” Three more Commissioners needs to support the Commissioners that called for the forensic audit starting at the Mayors office. And when it comes to his comment on the increase on the Augusta property tax in Richmond county, he probably soon will not own a piece of property in Richmond County due to his chosen lifestyle choices in the past 8 years, while painting a picture of a family man and Preacher to the public. As a taxpayer and property owner of Richmond County, the only thing I want to hear out of Mayor Hardee Davis’s mouth is how he is going to repay all of the taxpayers money that he has used and constantly refused to comply with open act request.

  9. Property assessments is just another scheme to transition the US population into the serf class, vassal class, and lord class. What you have left over after honestly subtracting liabilities from assets will determine your class.

  10. The faucet is open and the majority of the commissioners have zero interest in slowing it down. They will spend it all. Wait for the increase in garbage and street lights. More government BS answers.

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