What will be new on this year’s notice is an estimate of what the property owner’s tax bill will be later this fall.
“What I’m afraid of is a lot of older folks will see that as a bill and want to pay,” said McWhorter. “It’s not a bill. I’ve got that at the top of the notice and again at the bottom where the total is.”
Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne said that if someone were to mail a check, he would have to tear it up and shred it because he cannot accept a payment until the Department of Revenue formally approves the county tax digest.
Click to see more from the Floyd County Tax Assessor website.
McWhorter said preparing the notices has been a major undertaking for his staff because estimating the tax bill in advance has never been done before. The estimate is based on the 2010 tax rate.
The value of existing property in Floyd County dropped by approximately 4 percent, or close to $250 million, according to McWhorter. Payne said the good news is that there was new growth of approximately $116 million.
“About half of that was from the specialty hospital and new assessments on cell phone towers,” Payne said.
Overall, that means the tax digest should be down about 2.5 percent.
“I was expecting more like 4 or 5 percent,” Payne said. “It certainly is going to give the school board, and both the city and county commissions, something to think about. If they hold to the same millage rate, it’s going to bring in less money.”
County Commission Chairman Eddie Lumsden said, “I believe our commitment is to hold the line. If indeed the digest is
down, it will make it more difficult.”
“We’ve been anticipating about a 3 percent decrease,” said Rome City Manager John Bennett. “Compared to a lot of cities that’s not too bad.”
After property owners get their assessment notices, they will have 45 days in which to file an appeal.
McWhorter explained that the main appeal method requires a formal letter of appeal, which is evaluated by the Board of Equalization. If property owners are not satisfied with that review, they can appeal to the Superior Court.
A second manner of appeal would involve binding arbitration.
“Arbitration means that you have to have a certified appraisal,” McWhorter said. “The Board of Assessors will look at it. If we agree, it’s a done deal. If we don’t agree to it, then it’ll go to the arbitrator.”
McWhorter said an arbitrator has to decide on one of the two values.
“He (or she) can’t come up with a number in between, higher or lower. It’s either mine or yours,” McWhorter.
The third type of appeal involves property that is not homesteaded and valued in excess of $1 million.
“You have the right to go to what’s known as a hearing officer,” McWhorter said. “I would go and we would give our side of the argument and you would give your side of the argument.”
After the hearing officer reaches a decision, either party could appeal to the Superior Court.
“I’m going to have a standard appeal letter which is going to be used statewide, available in my office, and there will be one out on the website www.romefloyd.com,” said McWhorter.