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Be prepared for double-digit increases for Fulton Co. property assessments

Many Fulton County homeowners will be hit with double digit increases in their property assessments for a second year.
Credit: Brock, Savannah

Many Fulton County homeowners will be hit with double-digit increases in their property assessments for a second year.

The Fulton County Board of Assessors met on Thursday and said, preliminary numbers show, the median increase in property assessments for Atlanta residents will be 32.43 percent. For Fulton County residents, the median increase will be 28.36 percent.

A big increase in your property assessment means a big increase in your taxes.

“We’re telling homeowners to be prepared for your 2018 tax bill,” said Rep. Beth Beskin, ® Atlanta. “Because the Fulton County Commission in 2017 rolled the digest back. From everything I heard from my friends and colleagues on the Fulton County Commission they are not able to do that this year.”

Last year, 11Alive News was the first media outlet to report on massive increases.

Some residents were hit with triple-digit increases in their property assessments. It affected neighborhood from Johns Creek to South Fulton but was particularly bad in Atlanta’s rapidly gentrifying Old Fourth Ward. It threatened to push out lifelong residents who could not afford major tax increases.

After months of protests from Fulton County homeowners, the Fulton County Commission found a law from the 1800’s that allowed them to freeze assessments at 2016 levels.

However, this year lawmakers say that cannot happen because, under the law, the Fulton County Tax Appraiser has to keep assessments near market value.

The only way to change that would be to change laws or add laws to cap tax increases or give more exemptions. Almost every Fulton County city has laws similar to that on the November ballots to be approved, or denied, by voters. The money from your property taxes funds public school systems, police, firefighters, and many other municipal services.

The Chief Fulton County Tax Appraiser, Dwight Robinson, emphasizes residents can always appeal their assessment if they think it is too high.

“I am 100 percent sure that on some of these parcels there are errors,” said Robinson. “We will fix it. You just have to contact us.”

Residents are concerned these increases are being fueled by outside influences and not new residents.

“A lot of this is speculative. A lot of these are investors in the market that are impacting the evaluation of taxes,” said Ron Shakir, Atlanta resident. “And I think citizens ought to make sure citizens are getting the right tax and not just an exaggerated (number) from investors.”

During Thursday’s meeting, the Board of Assessors and Chief Appraiser agreed to launch the analysis of 80,000 plus homes they believe were wrongly assessed in 2016. RJ Morris, a member of the board, presented a spreadsheet he said showed those properties were victims of “sales chasing.” That’s a term used when newly sold homes are assessed at significantly higher rates, while other homes value remains the same.

An appraisal expert at Thursday’s meeting said “sales chasing” is not an acceptable appraisal process because values must be uniformly assessed. It’s an issue that concerned residents at the meeting.

“We cannot follow a ghost in trying to establish what our rates are,” said Atlanta resident Shakir. “We have to understand what the issues really are. If it’s going to be tax hike it ought to be a correct tax hike. It ought to be fair. “

The Board of Assessors will officially approve assessments next Thursday. They will be mailed out on May 22 and also, for the first time, available online.

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