Waterfront property owners at Tobesofkee see big increase in land values

On most days, Philip McLeroy wakes up at 5 a.m., walks outside his modest ranch-style home and goes fishing in Lake Tobesofkee.

It’s a simple luxury his waterfront property allows him to have. And it’s getting expensive.

Because of a change in the way Bibb County appraises waterfront property on the lake, the value placed on McLeroy’s Hamrick Road home has jumped about 85 percent to $316,000, according to the Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors. The land alone is valued at $175,100.

“Being on a fixed income, if my taxes go up 85 percent that’s going to create a hardship,” said McLeroy, a recent widower and retired teacher.

Lakefront property used to be valued primarily based on how much of it touched the lake’s shores. Now, it’s being valued by lots, with most lakefront lots receiving a land value of about $130,000 or $175,000, Macon-Bibb Chief Appraiser Andrea Crutchfield said.

The difference depends on how much lake frontage the property has and other topographical factors, she said. The land value does not include any buildings or other improvements to the property.

To contrast, the land value of a landlocked property on Hamrick Road is about $32,000.

The change, Crutchfield said, is to get land values more in line with the price at which they’re selling.

“That’s the way they were selling,” she said. “People wanted to be on the lake, and they weren’t paying more or less for the frontage.”

McLeroy said he thinks the method, which Crutchfield said the state allows, is unfair. He said he has filed an appeal.

“I don’t think I could sell this place for what they’ve got it for,” he said.

Down at the corner of Hamrick and Brim roads, Mike and Linda Picchione said they have about 59 feet of waterfront property. Their land also is valued at $175,100.

“It did go up an awful lot,” Linda Picchione said.

But the pair, who are both retired from the construction business, said they don’t plan to appeal.

Based on what they paid for their home three years ago, the value seems about right, Linda Picchione said. However, she said she didn’t think it was worth that much in today’s market.

Crutchfield said appraisers will be going back to Lake Tobesofkee to take another look at waterfront properties and make sure the land is valued uniformly.

During the appeals process, appraisers have found some properties with one value when it should be the other, she said.

“I know we did have some large increases out there,” she said.