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First day to appeal new values draws Bibb County property owners downtown

George Washington of Macon was one of the first Bibb County residents to file an appeal Monday after receiving his property revaluation notice in the mail.

Washington, who has a home inspection company, saw his home’s value increase by almost $50,000 and another property by $30,000.

“I thought it was too high,” he said. “The housing market is depressed. I don’t see how the value can go up. I was surprised that it went up that high.”

The county’s last successful revaluation was in 2001. With the new revaluation, the median increase was about 33 percent. Residential and agricultural properties saw a median increase of about 28 percent.

The Bibb County Tax Assessors Office braced for a backlash from property owners, setting up a phone bank and stationing a Macon police officer in the lobby. The phone calls were steady all day, and the office was busy with walk-ins Monday morning, but the reaction — so far — was nothing like in 2006, when a botched revaluation drew about 18,000 appeals before it was thrown out.

“No people are lined up out the door,” said Andrea Crutchfield, who was named the county’s chief appraiser in September.

“It’s similar to 2006. ... I know a lot of people are in a little bit of sticker shock. We just have to reiterate that this is not just one year, ’08 to ’09. It’s from 2001.”

John Simmons, who lives on Thomaston Road, went to the office to appeal the new value assigned to his home and to the estate of his late father. His home’s value jumped from about $30,000 to $60,000, while the estate’s value was assessed at $220,000 — almost twice the 2001 assessment.

“It shouldn’t have jumped up like that, especially with the economy like it is,” he said.

Simmons fears the hit he’ll take to the wallet should the county commission decide against rolling back the millage rate to account for growth in the tax digest. Governments that want to keep the extra revenue generated from the growth are required to hold public meetings before they do so.

“The economy’s already bad,” Simmons said. “That means I’m going to have double taxation.”

Washington said assessors plan to review his appeal and, if needed, send someone out to reassess the property.

“I was quite satisfied with the response,” he said.

The deadline to appeal is July 6.

To formally file an appeal with the tax assessors office, mail a letter or visit the office, located at 653 Second St. in downtown Macon. The written request for appeal must include the owner’s name, property location, a statement requesting an appeal and the reason for the appeal.

This time, the assessors office is encouraging appointments. To schedule an appointment, call 621-6701 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The new 2009 values are online at the Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors Web site. Property owners can use the site to check their property’s value and the values of other properties around them. In most cases, new photos of each property will be available as well.

To look up a value online, go to www.co.bibb.ga.us/TaxAssessors/index1.html. Click on “Search Records” in the menu on the left side of the page. Then, click on “Property Record Cards.” There, you will be able to search by map, owner name, parcel number or address.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this story.

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.

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