Mailing of property values delayed in Bibb County

The mailing of new Bibb County property values has been delayed one month as assessors work to comply with a new law requiring them to consider foreclosures and bank sales in their assessments.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors unanimously voted Monday to put off mailing the notices until June 1. The board originally planned to certify the new values, the result of a countywide property revaluation, at the Monday meeting and mail notices in early May. The move tightens the time assessors have to reconcile appeals if property tax bills are to be sent on time.

“We don’t really have any options in this matter,” Chief Appraiser Andrea Crutchfield said.

On April 14, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed into law a bill requiring that foreclosures and bank sales be considered in determining a property’s fair market value, effective Jan. 1, 2009, Crutchfield said. Those kinds of sales previously have not been taken into account because they typically don’t have a willing buyer and a willing seller — a characteristic of a fair-market sale, she said.

The bill came in response to concerns that assessments would be too high considering the economic climate. Republicans for the past few years have been looking for ways to limit ad valorem taxes.

In Bibb County, there are about 1,500 foreclosures and bank sales from 2008 to go back and consider, Crutchfield said. However, that number could include duplications if a home was foreclosed on and then sold by the bank in the same year, she said.

Foreclosures and bank sales, which typically result in lower sale prices, will be analyzed by neighborhood, Crutchfield said. Neighborhoods with a high number of foreclosures are the most likely to be impacted, she said.

“There may be some effects to individual neighborhoods but not an overall effect to the digest,” she said.

Appraisers for Ohio-based Tyler CLT Co., the private firm being paid nearly $2 million to conduct the revaluation, are staying on at no additional cost to help Bibb comply with the new law, said DJ Johnson, president of appraisal services for CLT.

Bill Vaughn, chairman of the assessors board, insists the revaluation won’t be negatively impacted by the new requirement.

“It pushes everything back 30 days, but it’s not going to have any adverse effect on this reval process,” he said.

However, it does shorten the amount of time assessors have to reconcile appeals — and they expect many.

If assessment notices are sent out June 1, property owners will have until July 1 to appeal. Then, the county must whittle down the number of appeals it receives to fewer than 5 percent of the total number of parcels before a new tax digest can be submitted. In Bibb, that’s about 3,400 appeals.

The failed 2006 property revaluation generated more than 18,000 appeals.

Bibb Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders said he would need the new values by late August in order to get bills out by mid-September, when they typically are mailed. A delay in mailing tax bills could delay the city, county and school board from collecting tax revenue and further complicate their already tight budgets.

“It’s extremely important that we get (the revaluation) done in a timely fashion,” Bibb Commission Chairman Sam Hart said last week. “We don’t need to get in a situation where we don’t see adequate cash flow in time.”

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.