Many homeowners in Rockdale and Conyers will soon be receiving notices in the mail of their property value assessments, and for most, those values have gone down.
About 31,000 assessment notices were sent out Thursday. Out of those, only about 500 properties saw their values increase. The rest decreased, said Lamar Sims, director of the Board of Assessors Office.
"Everybody’s expecting values to go down; whether they’ll be happy with the values we set, that’s going to be an individual decision," depending on if the home was an investment or a final living place, said Sims.
However, he warns that just because the value has gone down doesn’t necessarily mean the amount of an owner’s property tax will go down.
"We’re only one part of it," he said. Other factors include the budget needs of the school system and the county and the amount of sales taxes and other fees collected.
If a homeowner wants to dispute the assessed value, the first step is to file an appeal in writing, within 45 days of the notice, to the Board of Assessors. If it is mailed, it must have U.S.P.S. postage. Appeal forms are available online at www.rockdalecounty.org or at the Board of Assessors office at 981 Milstead Avenue. The mailing address is Post Office Box 562, Conyers, GA 30012.
Sims said he’s noticed more involvement from homeowners in the assessment process in recent years.This year, about 2,300 owners came in on their own to declare the value of their property. Last year, about 1,400 came in, and in 2008, only 400 came in to do so.
Last year, 790 appeals were filed, out of the 10,000 notices that were sent.
There are about 35,000 residential, commercial and industrial properties overall in the county and city. Last year, 10,000 assessments were sent out, and in 2008, 7,000 assessments were sent out. Each year, the office conducts an analysis to determine how on-target the assessments are compared to actual sales, said Sims.
"When we did our study, we found the majority of the sales were lower than the values we had on the property," he said.
Sims said there won’t be a number to place on the amount of this year’s tax digest until around June, after owners have filed their appeals.
Another factor which affects the amount of property taxes paid by an owner is the amount of Homestead Option Sales Tax collected, which is used to exempt or reduce the amount of the county portion of property tax for homesteaded homeowners.
Last year, the county had about $13.6 million in HOST funds, which was enough for an 80 percent HOST reduction. For this year, about $11.5 million was collected, according to Tax Commissioner Dan Ray.