Property values still going up in Bibb County, despite foreclosures

After a one-month delay to consider foreclosures and bank sales in Bibb County’s property revaluation, values still are increasing by about 33 percent, the board of assessors confirmed Wednesday.

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors unanimously approved the new values after hearing a report from D.J. Johnson, president of Tyler CLT Appraisal Services. The private firm is being paid nearly $2 million to conduct the revaluation and worked for almost two years on the project.

“We are finished. We are there,” Johnson told assessors. “It’s been a long journey.”

Assessment notices for Bibb’s roughly 68,000 parcels will be sent to a printer today and mailed June 5, Chief Appraiser Andrea Crutchfield said. Property owners will have until July 6 to appeal their new values.

Values have not changed across the board since the last successful countywide property revaluation in 2001.

Assessors originally planned to certify the new values at their April 27 meeting, but a new law requiring foreclosures and bank sales to be considered in assessments postponed any vote until now.

Those sales and foreclosures — about 800 in Bibb — did not have a major impact on the revaluation, Crutchfield said.

The foreclosures and bank sales still have to meet fair market standards, such as having a willing buyer and a willing seller, she said. After that was taken into account, few of those sales counted, she said.

Johnson said the new values comply with state standards.

One of the most important ways the state measures the accuracy of values is by a sales ratio. The sales ratio compares assessed property values to actual sale prices. The state standard is 40 percent, and Georgia allows a variance of 4 percentage points in either direction.

The sales ratio for the new revaluation is 40 percent, Johnson said. Other figures measuring uniformity and bias among values also fall within acceptable ranges, he said.

Bibb currently has about $361,000 in state fines under appeal because it does not have an acceptable tax digest — a listing of all property and property values in the county. A hearing for the appeals, which span 2006 and 2007, is scheduled for Tuesday, Crutchfield said.

Additional penalties are expected for 2008, when Bibb’s sales ratio was 32 percent, she said.

In the new revaluation, residential and agricultural property values saw a median increase of 28 percent, Johnson said.

Commercial and industrial properties saw a median increase of 43 percent, he said.

Bibb County did not see a dramatic decrease in values like some areas, such as metro Atlanta, because the housing market in Bibb has remained more stable, Johnson said.

Since 2001, Bibb property values increased by an average of 4 percent per year, he said.

The areas seeing the significant drops had increases in previous years of about 10 percent, he said.

Partly because of Bibb’s increase in values, assessors expect a slew of appeals.

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, which was thrown out for containing numerous flaws, generated more than 18,000 appeals.

If appeals can’t be reconciled in time, the city, county and school board may have to send out temporary tax bills to avoid a delay in collecting tax revenue.

Bill Vaughn, chairman of the tax assessors board, encouraged property owners with questions about their values to make an appointment to talk with an appraiser. CLT staff also will be on hand to answer questions.

“Maybe the need for an appeal will be circumvented,” he said.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.