Thursday, August 21, 2008
Deadline Aug. 29 to appeal valuations
By SUE WATSON
Property value notices were mailed to residents, businesses and industries last week by the tax assessor’s office, and most saw a substantial increase of about 20 percent or more.
It is all the result of the first statewide reappraisal of property in six years, according to tax assessor Juanita Dillard.
Property owners have until August 29 to file an appeal with the tax assessor’s office regarding their true values, she said. Taxpayers can come into the tax assessor’s office and file an appeal or call and request that a form be mailed to them, she said.
The appeal process only applies to tax valuations for the 2008 year, she said. After August 29, it is much harder to appeal a property valuation, which can only be changed by an order from the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, Dillard said.
Those who are appealing their property valuations will need to bring documents showing proof of homeowner’s or business property insurance with how much the property is insured for and the last appraisal of their property done within the last three consecutive years, Dillard said. To request an appeal form or for further information call the tax assessor's office at 662-252-6209.
State Tax Commission rule 6 states that the true value this year must be within 15 percent of the market value, she said. That means that the tax assessor’s valuation of property can be no less than 85 percent and no more than 115 percent of market value, she said.
“We have gotten a healthy response since sending out notices last week,” Dillard said. “The phone has been ringing off the hook. But we want to know property owners’ concerns, and if something is way out of line, it would be hard to fix after August 29.”
Two senior citizens, Bill Roberts and Bill English at Oak Grove Subdivision, had an audience with the board of supervisors.
Roberts said they are concerned about the way the tax appraisal was handled and the way the appraisals went up.
“My appraisal went up quite a bit, about 30 percent, since it was last appraised,” Roberts said. "Some things, as appraised, doubled (in value).”
Roberts said his siding on his home went from about $1,600 to $3,200 in value while he has changed nothing. A concrete patio which has had no changes was up by $540 and the lot his house sits on was appraised upward by about 60 percent while the house was up by about 20 percent.
Roberts said he saw no appraisers at his house.
“I think that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Roberts has lived in his house 13 years.
His neighbor, English, said his true value went up about 22 percent.
While appreciating how the board has to put the budget together to cover county expenses, English said he hopes the mill rate will be decreased by the board of supervisors as much as possible.
“Deciding how much money is in the budget they want and then backing into it, is not the way to go about it,” he said.
English had worked in budgets in his career and he said the supervisors should see how much revenue they have to work with, then decide what to budget for.
“I’ve heard Marshall County has one of the highest mill rates in the state,” he said.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett told the two men that “prices have skyrocketed in the last two years.”
English and Roberts said their taxes are going up but not their incomes.
“I hate to pay taxes, too, and would love for taxes to go down,” Bennett said.
Dillard explained that appraisers do not go inside people's homes when making appraisals.
After the board meeting, chancery clerk Chuck Thomas said the board is definitely considering homeowners first before looking at department budget requests and other requests from non-profit groups.
The board has discussed lowering the mill rate considerably this year since property values are up so much, he said. The reduction in the mill rate would help off-set the dollars in ad valorem that taxpayers are charged, he said.
“There is no reason for us to negotiate department budget increases until we see what the effect the increased valuation and budget will have on the homeowners,” he said.
At age 65, homeowners whose property is appraised at no more than $75,000 pay no ad valorem taxes on their property. But seniors are taxed on the assessed value of their property over $75,000.
Thomas said elected officials should press to get the Mississippi Homestead Exemption limit of the first $75,000 raised for those 65 and over because most seniors are on fixed incomes.
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