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Assessment notices a hot topic for county
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D-Day for Effingham County property owners is June 5 this year.

That’s the last day to file an appeal on property assessments as many property owners have called the tax assessors’ office to question their property values.

“Everybody is upset about the values,” county commission Chairwoman Verna Phillips said.

Said 1st District Commissioner Hubert Sapp: “Everyone I talked to is up in arms.”

Chief Appraiser Janis Bevill said only about 250 appeals have been filed on the 24,537 assessments sent out last month. That’s about the normal amount of appeals, she said.

Because of the volume of questions, Bevill will lead a public meeting to discuss how the assessors’ office reaches its values.

“We look at everything,” she said.

Bevill explained to county commissioners Tuesday morning how the assessment process works, going over the ratios and how they are gathered.

“This is not an easy process,” she said. “We look at everything.”

Assessors perform sales studies on all subdivisions, cities and communities in the county, and land values are updated according to sales.

But as sales prices go up, so do land values.

“The problem is new development is coming in and pricing people out of their homes,” Sapp said. “Don’t force somebody who has built a home to retire in to put it into real estate. The way things are going, you are pricing people out of their homes.”

“Not only do we try to comply with the laws and regulations, but we are concerned where the values are going,” Bevill said.

She also said charges that the recent appraisals didn’t include tracts over 35 tracts weren’t true.

Bevill also said freezing property values, through a law such as the Stephens-Day Act, could affect the county’s property tax revenue stream.

“When you freeze property values, the millage rate is going to have to increase or you have to cut some services,” she said.

Bevill has scheduled the public meeting for May 10 at 7 p.m. at the county’s administrative complex.

“I think it will help people understand,” Commissioner Myra Lewis said of Bevill’s proposed meeting. “But it won’t make them feel a bit better.”