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Assessors will review exemptions

ALBANY, Ga. -- At the mandate of the General Assembly, Dougherty County Board of Tax Assessors have begun the process of reviewing every entity exempt from paying property taxes.

Chairman Bill Ashberry said Tuesday following the board's meeting that a pair of initiatives taken on by the Legislature will bring new challenges to the board for 2011.

Those two challenges -- an overhaul of the assessment process and a mandatory review of tax-exempt entities -- could have far-reaching implications for Dougherty County coffers.

"I think it's a double check on the system, which is a good thing, because they're working to make sure the process is fair," Ashberry said. "I think the Department of Revenue and the General Assembly is absolutely trying to their best to make sure people pay their fair share."

According to the IRS, there are 395 active non-profits in Dougherty County. Many of them are exempt from paying local property taxes.

"I think people need to understand that when an exemption is granted, it's like saying that the taxpayer has agreed to pay that organization's share of taxes," Ashberry said. "So we have to be extremely careful to make sure that property owners don't end up carrying too much of the burden."

In addition to the review, the Board of Assessors will have to enact new policies on several different facets of the tax system, such as when assessment notices are sent out.