Immorality and Fair Property Assessment in Fannin County

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Fannin County Board of Assessors – Nathan Henson, Janie Bearden and Lane Bishop

It is “immoral if I oppose him” stated the letter read by Fannin County Chief Tax Appraiser Dawn Cochran at the August 2nd Board of Assessors meeting.  Cochran did not say if this was from the property owner off Lower Star Creek  Road whose property tax went from $0 in 2015 to $448,00 in 2016 or the Old Toccoa Road property that went from $912,579  to $2,021,739 or the property which went from $53,000 to over $2 million.

Cochran did say that she advised the owner questioning her morality on how to establish that the property was unbuildable due to placement of a septic tank.  But, the owner never followed up with a certificate from the Fannin County Health Department that states a septic tank cannot be put on the property.

“People are shocked that they have to pay taxes.  If everyone pays their fair share, we can keep rolling the millage rate back” said Lane Bishop, Chairman of the Board of Tax Assessors for Fannin County.

The property owners described above are a few of the 227 residential property owners who are appealing their 2016 assessments.  According to Bishop, approximately half of the property owners seeking assessment appeals have properties on Lake Blue Ridge.  “This is the highest-priced property in Fannin County,” said Bishop, “and it hasn’t been assessed in 14 years.”  Bishop admitted that the Tax Assessors office in the past has had less than acceptable due-diligence in bringing the lake properties up to fair market value.

The outlook for successful assessment appeals is not rosy.  Out of the more than 27,000 properties that Fannin County reassessed, only 227 chose to appeal, which is less than 1% of the total.  The Board of Assessors wins the great majority of the assessment appeals that are brought before the Board of Equalization.

The Board of Equalization will begin hearings in early October.  The Board of Equalization rules on assessment appeals, but the Board of Equalization has no contact with Board of Tax Assessors.

Cochran also shared the results of the state accuracy audit.  Fannin received 36.22 out of a perfect score of 40.  This represents a steady upward increase in the county’s accuracy from 33.86 in 2011. Currently, the Tax Assessors office is under a Georgia’s Department of Revenue mandate that Fannin County rectify its property tax digest.  We still have work to do, but we are moving in a positive direction said Cochran.

 

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