Columbus City Council asks for property assessment rollback

MUSCOGEE COUNTY, Ga. —  A record number of appeals is pouring into the Muscogee County tax assessor’s office after county-wide property assessments were sent out in June.

“The burden is being placed on the citizenry to get this right, Columbus City Councilor Glenn Davis said.

Thousands of angry homeowners say their property values were over estimated, which would stick them with higher taxes.

“I am very, very frustrated with this entire process,” Councilor Judy Thomas said.

The property owners were told the only way they could get their property assessments changed was by filing an appeal.

The appeal record has been shattered: more than 4,600 of the 70,000 properties assessed have been appealed.

“I cannot go anywhere in this town that I am not stopped by a taxpayer.”

After learning the tax assessor’s office has the authority to roll back to 2016 assessments, councilors wasted no time in asking for just that.

Tuesday morning councilors passed a resolution asking the tax assessor’s office to put a freeze on 2017 evaluations and use levels from 2016 instead.

Whether the board will do the roll back is unclear. They were not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I don’t know the reason why they’re not here but they’re not.,” Thomas said.

The board’s attorney Robert Lomax spoke on its behalf. He said the board was only given 24 hours notice to attend the meeting.

If the board of assessors decides to do the roll back, city councilors must find a way to cut back spending to stay under budget.

They must cut an estimated $1.3 million, which is the projected amount of property tax increase from 2016 to 2017.

“I believe that if we’re talking $1.3 million out of the general fund that the council can do that,” Thomas said.

That will also impact the school district because, according to Councilor Thomas, 60 percent of all property taxes go to the school district.

News 3 reached out to Lomax for an interview but has not received a response. At the meeting, he said around 600 assessments have been reduced while about 400 have been denied.

The deadline to file an appeal is Monday, August 14.

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