Gilmer County Board of Assessors Approves the 2014 Digest

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The Gilmer County Board of Assessors held a regularly scheduled meeting this past Thursday. In the meeting the board covered a number of issues including the denial of homestead exemptions that failed to meet criteria, businesses with outstanding balances, the approval of a dress code policy, and most notably the approval of the 2014 Digest Submission Report. Chief Appraiser Richard Lamb said the team wrapped up the final touches on the digest about an hour before the meeting, despite several last minute appeals.

The total appraised value of properties in Gilmer county for 2014 was $2,830,126,295 – up from the original package submitted to the school board earlier this year.

Each year the BOA is required to compile data regarding properties in the county for the state. In essence the digest is the entire reason the BOA exists. For Georgia, the Assessment Value is 40% of the Fair Market Value. If the Sales Ratio (assessed Value ÷ Sales Price) is between 36% and 44%, then the ratio is acceptable to the Georgia Department of Revenue.

For the 2014 Digest, Lamb used 577 samples to determine the ratio for residential sales, which came to 39.38% and 39.39% for the median and the aggregate. The lowest ratio was 36%, the highest 54%.

There were only 28 agriculture sales in Gilmer county for the year. The ratio’s were 39.27% for the median and 39.62 for the aggregate.

During the meeting the Board also discussed two reviews, one from the Department of Audits, the other an upcoming review of the 2013 Digest from the Georgia Dept of Revenue.

Lamb expressed his disagreement with the DOA’s 2013 sales ratio study. “I’m very disappointed in the results.” He explained that the DOA uses a random sampling procedure for properties, which does not match the hard copy numbers. “They don’t understand what we’ve gone through in this county with three bank failures. We’re not in a cookie cutter situation like Metro Atlanta.” Lamb explained.

The study is used determine what counties are able to collect on public utilities. The DOA’s study rated the aggregate assessment at 37.10%.

The Board also discussed outstanding returns. For 2013 and 2014 tax years, there are 106 outstanding balances. Sixty-eight of those are from 2014, thirty-eight from 2013. The problem is that not all of the balances are worth the cost and efforts to pursue. At least some of the businesses are large businesses, including fast food chains, but a number of them are simply unknown because the businesses have not filed.

So far the strategy has been to send letters. The next phase would be to include subpoenaing the businesses with outstanding balances. The cost to the county would be at least $260 per case if the businesses failed to answer the subpoena.

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