Troup County tax assessors are still working through appeals filed on property tax assessments, but have about 1,000 left of the more than 5,000 appeals received.
Property appraiser Dan Smith, giving county commissioners an overview of the property tax appraisers’ process on Monday, said that there are about 990 appeals left to address. In February, property appraisers sent out 608 30-day notices to appellants informing them of their hearing options.
For those who appeal, they have three choices. For any property, appellants or their representative may go before the Board of Equalization for a hearing. For those that choose to pay for a certified appraisal, they may choose arbitration, where the board of tax assessors may choose to go with the appellate’s appraisal or, if tax appraisers feel the original appraisal is correct, forward the appeal to a judge to decide, with the losing party paying court costs. For non-homestead property valued at $1 million or higher, appellants may present a case to a hearing officer. Appeals filed to the Board of Equalization or hearing officer may be further appealed to superior court at appellate’s cost.
Property values for 2012 were the first to reflect a mass county revaluation of property, bringing in 5,021 appeals. For context, Smith said in 2011 that tax appraisers received 1,580 appeals.
The Board of Equalization will begin hearing appeals next week. Originally, two boards were set to hear appeals, but after one board member suffered a stroke, they are down to one board member. Smith said there have been special occasions before where board meetings were carried out with two out of three members, but he felt it wasn’t fair to the appellate.
Smith said that all appeals should be heard by the Board of Equalization by May or June.
In another matter, commissioners heard from Joe McGrew of Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. of Norcross on options for replacing the Salem Road bridge. The bridge, which was built in 1929, is deteriorating, said County Engineer James Emery. Planning for a replacement, Emery said engineers want to keep the aesthetic integrity of the original bridge, which has a metal lattice truss design.
McGrew presented three options to commissioners on designs for a new bridge. The first would incorporate the original trusses from the current bridge, but without the top bracing that limit it to a 13 foot, 7 inch height, to the new bridge at a total estimated cost of $1.23 million. The second option, which would not use a truss, would cost an estimated $825,000. A third option would use a new truss with stressed steel similar in style to the current bridge at an estimated total cost of about $1.1 million.
Any work on the bridge would be covered by special-purpose, local-option sales tax funds and McGrew estimated it would be closed about six months for construction. Commissioners were expected to choose an option at a later meeting.
“We’re ready to move ahead on any one of these options in the next 30 days,” Emery said.
In other business, commissioners on Monday approved a proposal by the Troup County Environmental Health Department to incorporate inspection fees for recently adopted tattoo and body art shop regulations, and increased fees for other health department duties to offset increasing expenses from training, increased inspection time and travel costs, said environmental health manager Melinda Bailey.
Bailey said the department also is receiving less money from the state, leaving it with more costs to cover.
Commissioners also approved hiring replacements for positions in the department of corrections, sheriff’s department, parks and recreation, and 911. Because of the county’s hiring freeze, commissioners have to approve new hirings.