Digest down about 5 percent, less than years past
By Stephanie Johns
Chief Appraiser Chuck Anglin and Appraiser III and GIS Administrator Mechell Salter shared information from the Morgan County Tax Assessors Office with those present at the recent Morgan County commissioners work session last week.
Anglin offered updates regarding the county’s tax digest and Conservation Use Value Assessment (CUVA), while Salter spoke about the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) information.
Anglin said the tax digest will continue to decrease, just not as much as it has in the past.
“It’ll go down about 5 percent on average,” he said, stressing that there may be some valued at a higher or lower rate, but overall it will be down about 5 percent.
The number of foreclosures in the county also has decreased: from about 200 last year to about 100 this year, he said.
Bank-owned properties also have decreased by about two-thirds, he said.
“These are positive signs to stabilizing the values,” he explained.
He added that “not many” homes are sitting empty in the county.
“These are the first good signs we’ve seen in three years,” he said.
Regarding CUVA, Anglin told those present about how CUVA currently excludes two acres of land from conservation use for every residence on a property.
“I have seen up to five homes on one property so they will have to exclude 10 acres,” he said.
Salter said that for those applicants who do not designate the shape of the excluded acreage, she does it for them with the house in the center. She added that most people do not have a problem with the buffers she sets out.
Many of the county’s CUVA applications are up for renewal this year. Salter said so far they have received about 250 or over half.
Of those received, Anglin estimated that between 10 and 20 could possibly not qualify for a renewal.
Anglin said they have helped applicants fill out the forms so fewer follow-up phone calls have been necessary.
County Commissioner Ronald Milton asked about the people’s concerns that CUVA raises taxes.
County Manager Michael Lamar said that “statewide, CUVA pays for itself.”
Anglin noted that House Bill 37, formally called the Forest Land Protection Act Changes and informally called Timber Company Changes, could lead to giving these companies the same breaks as they receive in other states.
He said this would have “a negative impact” on the county’s tax digest.
He later explained that this bill gives corporations the same type of tax breaks that the farmer gets.
“This new bills is trying to make (corporations’) penalties the same so they’d get a bigger reduction than farmers in the county,” he said. “All property is assessed at 40 percent. They’d receive 30 percent – basically a 25 percent reduction off the 40 percent.”
Salter said she has worked with County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell to update county roads for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
Also, she said she is trying to repair GPS data that had been damaged for whatever reason. For example, if faulty equipment was used the data may be incorrect.
She added that there are certain corrections that should have been made to contour data that she has not been able to find.
“That was done from an outside source in 2006,” she said. “It should have been corrected then.”
Corrections would have to be made with another flyover. There is not one scheduled for 2013.
The company that did the original flyover went out of business in 2007 and the county cannot get corrected data from them.
Printed in the February 28, 2013