Sticker shock for Hall County homeowners

HALL COUNTY, Ga. -- Some are calling it a luxury tax and many say it came as a complete shock. Many Hall County lake home owners are opening their mail to find they owe double in property taxes next year.

The appraiser says the jump was overdue. But some residents say it will be struggle to keep their home.

"I love being on the lake but it was quite shocking to see when I opened the envelope," said Lake Lanier homeowner Jim Olsen.

Olsen says he literally had to catch his breath. The county sent him this note telling him the value of his home had been recently reassessed.

"It was 350 – now the assessed value is $623,000," Olsen said.

And double the assessed value means double the tax bill for Olsen.

"I looked at the bottom line and it's $4,000 more than I was paying," he said.

Olsen's shock rippled across the lake homes in the area, on average folks saw about a 39 percent jump in their property tax bill.

"That's a big jump in property taxes, and I can understand anybody's concern," said Hall County tax appraiser Steve Watson.

Watson says he is aware people are experiencing some sticker-shock, but assessments haven't been done in several years, and were long overdue.

"Lots that are selling for 450--$500,000, and our value is 200," Watson said.

Watson says the reassessments were done with non-lake homes as well and they, too, saw a jump -- on average about 30 percent. Watson says the appeals to his office have already started and he realizes there will be many more, but it's important to get the values in line with the market. It means residents like Olsen will have to change their budget,

"I do feel like I'm being charged a luxury tax," Olsen said.


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