More than 35,000 tax assessment notices were mailed in Dougherty County May 1.
ALBANY More than 35,000 tax assessment notices have been mailed to Dougherty County property owners and tax officials are bracing for appeals.
For the last three years, assessors have been hamstrung by a moratorium on assessments that was designed to give some relief to property owners struggling with a failed housing market and a stiff economic recession.
That moratorium has now lifted and some assessment notices are showing it, Dougherty County Tax Director Denver Hooten says.
"It's the first year out of the moratorium so there will be some people who see differences in the values of their notices from what they're used to seeing," she said. "And they'll be some whose values didn't change at all."
The notices mailed out May 1 are not bills, but are instead simply statements of what the new assessed value of property are, Hooten said.
For those who are less than thrilled with the numbers given to them by the assessors, Hooten says that the appeal process has been retooled to give property owners more options.
Firstly, property owners have 45 days from the date of the notice to appeal the assessment. Appeals have to be filled out on a form that is available at the Dougherty County tax department downtown.
Property owners now can appeal their assessment two different ways. The first is the traditional route through the Board of Equalization. Depending on the determination of the BOE, the property owner can appeal that ruling to the Dougherty County Superior Court.
New this year is the addition of binding arbitration. Property owners can seek arbitration, but, regardless of the ruling, the arbiter's decision is final with no further appeal.
For those with a massive amount of property, $1 million or more, a third option is available, Hooten says. A hearing officer will be assigned to disputes with assessments of property worth more than $1 million.
Those wishing to appeal their assessments must also state the grounds on which the appeal is based.
Value, uniformity, exemptions all are grounds that the property owner has the option to choose when filing their appeal.
After the appeal is filed, tax department staff reviews it and, if no immediate change is made to the assessed value, takes the appeal before the Dougherty County Board of Assessors who then assign it to a BOE or to an arbiter.
"There have been some changes to the process, but if anyone has questions they can call the office and we'll help however we can," Hooten said.