Fighting back against property assessments

COLUMBUS, Ga. —  Folks in Muscogee County are fighting back against what they call unfair assessments of their property.

People spoke up at a forum today hosted by the Columbus Board of Realtors where it was said that some folks had assessments 1,000 times higher than their last evaluation.

Property owners were mailed an assessment on the last day of June.

Some saw their value dramatically increase, leading to a huge jump in their property taxes.

The assessment has led to frustration and anger toward the city and the company hired to evaluate properties in Muskogee County.

Ron Senger lives in Beaver Run and saw the value on his lake jump from $94,000 to $710,000.

“You can imagine it was heart attack city,” Senger said. “If somebody wants to buy our lake for that price come talk to me. You can have it tomorrow.”

Although Senger is staying positive, he has the same frustration as everyone else going through this process.

“I just hope they go down to where it was to start with. Just the original value I’ve been paying for the last seven years,” he said.

To get that done, Senger and anyone else who disagrees with their evaluation must file an appeal.

“That’s the most disappointing thing to me personally. It just takes a huge amount of time,” at-large Columbus city councilor Skip Henderson said. “As I mentioned I talked to a gentleman the other day who has 200 pieces of property. You can’t appeal 200 pieces of property in 30 minutes worth of work.”

Attorney Travis Hargrove said some of the issues may lie with Tyler Technologies, the Texas-based software company paid to do the assessments.

“They might have just been looking at acreage and or square footage and not necessarily looking at the specific property or the specific characteristic of the property.”

Hargrove said his understanding is that the company used Google Earth to assess properties instead of sending someone to each property.

One local realtor said the new assessments are bad for business and bad for the county.

“Most of the people I deal with that buy property on a regular basis and were trying to build up their portfolio are now saying I don’t have to do this in other counties in the state,” local realtor Jayne Govar said. “This is the most unfriendly county in the state of Georgia.”

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