Columbus city council discusses property assessments

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Thousands of Muscogee County residents are upset with their high property assessments.

The county-wide assessment has left many people, including city councilors, wondering what can be done to solve property and tax evaluation problems.

Although many ideas were offered, property owners are being told the best avenue is to file an appeal.

“I personally don’t have faith and confidence in [the assessment process] and I’m a citizen and representative,” Columbus City Councilor Glenn Davis said.

Davis’ comment was followed by a roar of applause from the frustrated audience inside the chambers.

Jeanette Brown’s property value went from around $35,000 to more than $100,000.

“I think I almost fainted. Being a Christian, I said a few words Lord forgive me for that, but ain’t nobody is going to give you that much for the house,” Brown said.

She’s not alone in her frustration.

Jaine Baldwin owns one piece of property and acquired it at different times, which means it has different parcels.

She said they increased anywhere from 50 percent to 400 percent.

“It’s very time-consuming. It’s very frustrating and it just really overwhelms you because when you’re looking at bills like that to pay by Dec. 1, even 85 percent, you’re talking about people’s livelihood, you’re talking about their homes.”

People question how the assessments got that high and who’s responsible.

“Now how can you put people’s addresses in there and the machine goes and tells you how much somebody’s property is when they haven’t looked at it?” Jeanette Brown asked.

The answer for that and many other questions lies with the city’s work with Tyler Technologies.

The Texas-based company created software that re-evaluated all properties in Muscogee County and presented the values to the tax assessor’s office.

The process used is called computer assisted mass appraisal.

“We tell it what land is worth based on land sales,” John Williams, Columbus chief deputy appraiser said. “We tell it what the different components of a residential property or commercial property’s worth based on sales analysis.”

The information then gets plugged into a system that looks at the components of a property and brings those two pieces together to arrive at the assessment.

WRBL sent an email with a list of 10 questions to Tyler Technologies Monday evening.

This is the official statement from the company: “Tyler Technologies has appraised properties since 1938. Following is a link you might find useful For questions related to the specific project and methodology, please contact the tax assessor’s office.”

Many people questioned whether or not Tyler Technologies used Google Earth to assess the properties. They told us that is not the case.

For residential properties, the system takes the property’s age, location, square footage, amenities and quality into account.

The last time Muscogee County assessed the entire county was back in the late 1980s.

Also worth noting is the homestead exemption. This means the value of a person’s home plus two acres can go up or down, but the amount of taxes you pay stays the same.

But if you own more than two acres, taxes on extra acres can fluctuate with market value.

If you want to file an appeal, follow this link.

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