Though half of the Bibb County property assessment appeals aren’t complete, the county passed an important benchmark that could clear the way for final tax bills in about three months.
Andrea Crutchfield, the county’s chief appraiser, said Wednesday that 4.94 percent of the value of county properties is still under appeal. That’s just under a 5-percent limit, meaning the county can begin getting its assessment and tax records together for state review. The assessors focused on the higher-priced properties to speed up the process.
“We are there,” Crutchfield told the board of assessors. “We accomplished what we had set out to do by the end of the year.”
In all, 7,910 property appeals have been resolved, and another 562 were dropped. That means officials still are working on about half of the 17,071 real estate appeals that were filed in this year’s contentious property revaluation, the first time the process had gotten this far in eight years.
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Crutchfield said assessors will begin working with the tax assessor to share the assessment information across two computer systems. But the board of assessors doesn’t plan to formally offer the tax digest — the record of all the properties — to the tax assessor’s office until a Jan. 13 meeting. By that time, thousands more appeals will have been finalized.
The assessors will pass the tax digest on to Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders. If that schedule is met, the final tax bills can probably go out in mid-March, Tedders said Wednesday. In effect, the schedule is left up to three governments — Bibb County, the city of Macon and the Bibb County Board of Education — that could decide to wait until more appeals are finalized.
For taxpayers, the most important question is also the one that’s completely unanswered. Tedders said he has no idea if the final tax bills will be higher or lower than the temporary tax bills mailed several months ago. If the bills are lower, then taxpayers would receive a refund for the difference. If they are higher, taxpayers would have to pay more.
Crutchfield said nearly all the appeals are with the board of equalization. There were actually five boards of equalization meeting Wednesday, trying to plow through some of the roughly 5,300 property appeals already before them.
But the final possible stage of appeals could begin today. Crutchfield said two cases were scheduled to be heard in Bibb County Superior Court. About 38 taxpayers have appealed to the courts, she said.
Crutchfield said a review of Lake Tobesofkee properties hasn’t completely wrapped up, but it also hasn’t turned up any glaring problems with the assessments. A citizens group formed to fight what it calls unfair assessments draws much of its membership from the lakefront.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.