Bibb tax digest approved for first time in 8 years

A state agency has signed off on Bibb County’s tax digest, meaning that most property owners will soon be billed for additional taxes due.

The decision this month by the Georgia Department of Revenue said the tax records are “in proper form” — the first time that Bibb County’s tax digest has passed this level of scrutiny in eight years.

The new bills will be much smaller than the temporary tax bills that were due last fall, but they won’t be insignificant. On a $100,000 house in unincorporated Bibb County, the change in the tax bill will cost about $66 more. In Macon, the tax bill will go up $103.

Driven by three factors — problems estimating the final tax digest last year when taxes were so high, a Macon tax increase and a Bibb County schools tax increase — unincorporated county residents will pay 2.005 mills more and Macon residents will pay 3.116 mills more. That represents increases of about 7.1 percent outside the city limits and 8.9 percent inside the city limits compared with the fall’s draft tax bills.

“It’s making up the difference,” Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders said. Tedders said the bills — already at the printer — would be mailed this week or next and must be paid by June 30.

About half of the county’s increase is due to the higher school tax rate. About three-fifths of the Macon tax bill is due to the higher school and city tax rates. The temporary tax bills understated the amount due by about 3.6 percent as thousands of property values were appealed.

In all, about 17,000 of roughly 68,000 properties were appealed last year. The work from a second stage of appeals, with the Board of Equalization, is expected to wrap up this month.

Jean Hagood, vice chairwoman of the Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors, said good planning and teamwork made the contentious revaluation process successful. Hagood praised the way assessor’s employees worked with contractors from Tyler CLT Co., which received about a $2 million contract to help in the revaluation. Hagood also said Chief Appraiser Andrea Crutchfield overcame huge obstacles and logistical problems, including the challenge of running five Board of Equalization appeal groups at a time.

“The lady who is responsible for the receipt of digest told Andrea, ‘It’s perfect.’ That’s a wonderful word to hear,” Hagood said.

For last year’s revaluation, property owners could appeal to employees, then the Board of Equalization, then to Superior Court.

Alan Parker, who is waiting on a Superior Court decision on his father’s appeal about a Hamrick Road property on Lake Tobesofkee, maintained that the process has been inherently flawed. The land his father’s house sits on more than doubled in its valuation, from $67,200 to $174,990, he said. Parker said the land is really worth about $100,000, and he brought several witnesses as he fought in court for more than two hours in his struggle for a reduced valuation.

“For the average citizen it’s way too technical, it’s way too intimidating, way too complicated and it’s weighted in favor of the tax assessors,” he said. “I think, unfortunately, it’s a very unfair system.”

Another state agency, the Department of Audits and Accounts, still needs to audit the tax digest to see if assessed values closely match sale prices.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.