A five-year property adjustment was recently completed and some Fulton County property owners may find bittersweet results with numbers showing higher property values but also higher property taxes.
"We just finished up a five year reappraisal in the county and by law we have to adjust everything to market value," Dewayne Mack, president of Mack-Reynolds Appraisal Company, said.
"If an individual's property value has increased, all we have to do is send out a notice of 'change of assessment' and that is what we just got through doing. We mailed out approximately 25,000 of the change of assessments," Mack said.
Public response has been mild, Mack reported from the Fulton County Assessor's Office where he has been answering questions.
"We have been taking phone calls since last week explaining to people what their changes are and it has been going really smooth," Mack said.
"Most people are calling in just wanting to know what the change is. With the $350 homestead exemption on their principle place of residence and the first acre, lot or whatever they are setting on, their taxes are not going up much at all," Mack said.
By law, the increase in an individual's property taxes can only be raised 5 percent a year.
"What the law says is, if you have a house worth $100,000 and we have increased it to $150,000, the tax can only increase by 5 percent. The tax the next year would be based on $105,000. Then the following year it would go to $110,000. It goes up in increments of 5 percent," Mack said.
The newly assessed values have been carefully monitored for accuracy, according to Mack.
"It is all driven by the market. We don't just pull figures out of the air. We have a pricing schedule that is built into the computer we use and then we take and do an analysis of what the market is actually doing to bring that value up or down. We get pretty close to market value," Mack said.
Market value is the most probable price that a person would pay for a piece of property, he said.
"We look at several sales. Just because someone pays a specific price for something doesn't mean that is the market value. It has to be a trend of what is going on, basically an average of what stuff is selling for," Mack said.
Regardless of the increase in the value of an individual's property, if they're senior citizens they receive an increase exemption.
"If you are 65 and older it is frozen. The taxes can't go up on the principle place of residence and that first acre. If an individual turns 65 in the middle of the year, it won't go into effect the following year. If you're disabled it is frozen also," Mack said.
The properties in the county were not higher across the board, some property values have dropped due to various circumstances, Mack said.
"There might be something like a house that has become dilapidated or burnt. We will adjust that to what the market should be," he said.
The new assessment will bring equality to property across Fulton County, keeping owners paying taxes on the same level as similarly assessed properties.
"The best thing about this is getting equity in the assessment field. We are trying to make sure that if I have a house worth $100,000 and another individual has a house worth $100,000, we should be paying the same amount of taxes. That is all that this is about," Mack said.
Whether the value of a property increased or not, the children of the county receive a large portion of the taxes paid, Mack said.
"Schools get 80 percent of the money anyway. So, it is good for the schools. A lot of times when we scan the whole county we pick up new buildings, new houses and things like that. It brings more money into the schools," Mack said.