Tax assessors return to Lake Tobesofkee

The Bibb County Board of Assessors is taking a fresh look at properties on Lake Tobesofkee, where residents disputing their assessed values formed an opposition group.

Assessing staff will include in their review data from a 40-minute presentation by the group Wednesday, but initial indications are that assessments have few major errors, Chief Assessor Andrea Crutchfield said.

“Our initial review does not show anything that’s glaring,” Crutchfield told The Telegraph.

Lake Tobesofkee homeowners disputed assessed values that show lakefront lots in older subdivisions are close in value to newer subdivisions, where grand entrances, underground utilities and sewer service are present.

Harry Kozee, a resident of an older home on Tulokke Court, said some lake lots are assessed higher than the fair market value, and are higher than other neighborhoods.

“We want to pay our fair share, but we don’t want to pay someone else’s share,” he said.

Kozee said the group, formally known as the Bibb County Concerned Citizens for Fair Property Tax Appraisals, is looking for fairness and consistency, and doesn’t see either in Lake Tobesofkee appraisals.

“If we get ’em right, we’ll go away,” he said. “We’ll disband.”

Pat Fallin, the assistant chief appraiser for residential properties, looked at lakefront homes from a boat in recent weeks. She and other staff members are compiling a spreadsheet and a map and expect to review the protest group’s information in the next two weeks.

But Crutchfield said the land values have to be treated separately from the house values. People may not worry much about whether a lot is on a street with curbs and gutters, as long as it’s on the lake.

“It’s a lot on the lake with a view,” she said.

In other business, assessors said they expected to complete about two-thirds of all appeals by the end of the month.

The chairman of the board, Bill Vaughn, calculated that about 11,600 appeals will be finalized by Dec. 31. About 17,100 appeals were filed this summer.

Assessors expect to bring the value of disputed properties under 5 percent of the total, which would allow the county commissioners and tax collector to send the tax digest — the collection of all property values in the county — on to the state for approval, clearing the way for final tax bills.

But with all the appeals expected to wrap up around February, it’s not clear whether officials would quickly push the tax digest out the door. The commissioners did not publicly debate a timeline Tuesday, and Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders did not return a phone call seeking comment. In an interview Tuesday, County Commission Chairman Sam Hart didn’t nail down a schedule.

“That gives us an opportunity to decide when we go back to the state” and then send tax bills, he said.

He also said the resolution of so many appeals relatively quickly was a good sign.

“The assessors must have done something right,” he said.

To contact staff writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.