Board of Tax Assessors View Pictometry Demonstration to Consider Future Pictometry Utilization

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Tax Assessors Viewed a Pictometry Demonstration to Consider Future Pictometry Utilization in the County during their meeting on Monday, July 15, 2019.

Pictometry is more or less aerial imaging. It provides obliques in that it can see every structure from approximately a 45 degree angle via high-resolution images.

It views the makeup of the structure; wood, brick, the number of stories, if it’s a barn, a garage or car shed, etc.

It’s not an entirely new concept to the county, as Gilmer had its first flight in around March of 2017.

Kevin of EagleView

Kevin, a representative of the company EagleView presented a demonstration to the board pending its renewal of the county’s contract with the company.

The current contract is set to expire at the end of the year, but with the potential new contract the board is looking to utilize a technology known as “ChangeFinder”.

ChangeFinder is still Pictometry, but it’s a program that will essentially allow the Board of Assessors to quickly and easily determine any changes made to a property between the last aerial scan and the current aerial scan.

Aerial scans are made once every three years. ChangeFinder allows the board to quickly and easily compare two years of imagery, more or less.

The software can create building outlines for structures 150 square feet or greater.

Before and after imagery with ChangeFinder

It can categorize structures as new, changed (if there’s an added wing to a building, for example), or demolished.

It can find unclaimed revenue and provide cleanup data, and can pinpoint where to send out field staff.

The software can even measure structures directly from the imagery.

The imagery is provided to the board within 60 days of it being obtained, though Kevin explains this will likely be more along the lines of 30-45 days.

The software also allows the board to potentially quickly cross-reference with other areas of the local government, such as checking with the Office of Planning & Zoning to see if a permit has been granted for certain structures.

Instead of riding the roads to find changes, this will allow the board to see if there has been a 50% increase
to square footage, for example.

According to the statistics provided, the software has enabled office staff to check 281% more parcels than the year before, field staff to check 284% more parcels than the year before, total field costs were cut by 69%, and the miles driven (per parcel) were cut by 70%.

Before and after with ChangeFinder

The price for the imagery and the ChangeFinder tool would be $91,173 total (payable over three years), or, $30,391/year.

The board must renew the contract with the ChangeFinder option in order to utilize the before and after tools.

The price for just the image captures without the ChangeFinder tools would be payable over three years: $63,313 total, or, $21,104.33/year.

It is said that the revenue found from ChangeFinder usually covers the cost of ChangeFinder, if not the entire process (imaging plus ChangeFinder tools), though this can’t be guaranteed.

It will be proposed for the county budget in August, and then must go through a three month approval process.

All paperwork must be done by December in order for the Winter 2020 flight to occur, which will likely be mid-January to mid-March, depending on the weather.

Stay tuned for future developments!

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Tax Assessors Roll Back Decision on Elderly Tax Exemption Changes

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Tax Assessors voted to roll back their recent decision on House Bill 1383, which was given the green light during their meeting held on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

This bill ultimately determines what structures on a property are exempt for those 65 years of age or older in regards to the Gilmer County school district ad valorem taxes.

The board did as they informed the public they would do and got advice from Attorney Joe Scheuer of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia regarding the interpretation of the law.

In a three-page document to the board, Scheuer stated that “I believe this question involves a determination that must be made on a case by case basis locally”, but went on to say that “Homestead includes the following qualifications: The actual permanent place of residence, where the building is occupied primarily as a dwelling. In other words, with respect to the home, the exemption is limited to that structure so that attached structures are included; garage, deck, etc. Other structures, such as detached garages, gazebos, etc. are not included. Detached structures, to my knowledge, have never been included as part of the building which is occupied as the primary dwelling, or at least they were not supposed to have been included.”

However, because what this attorney says differs from what the state legislative liaison has said on the matter, County Attorney David Clark believes the board needs an opinion from the attorney general.

Ultimately, due to the two conflicting readings and two entirely different opinions as to how the tax code should be implemented, the board voted in favor of rolling back the decision to uphold the new changes, continuing with the way things were in 2018 until the board receives further clarification.

The issue with this decision, as the board pointed out, is that structures of business such as chicken houses, barns, etc. will be exempt of the school system taxes as they were in 2018.

But because of the deadlines involved, the board decided it would still be easier just to go with the 2018 interpretation without modification.

No further public mailings are required on behalf of the board because of this decision.

The board will be re-examining the definitions of the bill in the near future and hopes to have a definitive interpretation by 2020, so be sure to stay tuned for future updates!

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Newly-adopted bill ignores certain structures from elderly tax exemptions

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – House Bill 1383 was the topic of much debate during the Board of Tax Assessor’s meeting on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Up until adoption of this bill, those who were 65 years of age or older were exempt from paying the Gilmer County school district ad valorem taxes on their property.

This is still in place. However, this no longer exempts structures that are not considered to be the primary dwelling place of the property owner.

As Chief Appraised Theresa Gooch explained, the interpretation of this bill “Does not include any buildings not attached to the primary residence. It still exempts 100% on the primary home, all of the land and any structures that are attached by a common roof line.”

In short, structures not attached to your home by the roof line are no longer tax exempt.

This would include structures such as wood sheds, barns, out houses, green houses, etc. Whereas in the past, all structures on the entire property were exempt.

According to County Attorney David Clark, “the state is the entity that has guided the board to the specific definition as to what constitutes a homestead.”

The board explained “No one here was associated with the implementation of this bill in ’08. But it was implemented simply by applying the exemption to anyone over 65 who applied for appeals and asked for a homestead. Chicken houses, business’, etc. things that clearly didn’t belong in a homestead were caught up in it. The chicken houses and business’ were cleaned up shortly after that ’08 thing. I don’t even recall what brought this to our attention. But the law says under the definition of the state statute that the dwelling is the exempt item. The land and the residence.”

When asked why it took so long for the board to bring this up, they responded that they honestly weren’t sure, and that it just didn’t come to their attention prior.

Many citizens present were very against this change, however.

Many are concerned that the board simply wants nothing more than to tax them more, with one citizen stating “My neighbor has the same roof line. He has a horse barn. Now we’re not taxing it because it shares the same roof line? What’s next? I move my daughter in the basement, now I’m not occupying it, she is, so you’re going to tax my basement for that? That’s where we could go if we continue to let you erode our rights here. This isn’t right. Let’s stay where we’re at. Manage the money we already give you, and not try to take more away from us. It’s difficult enough as it is living on a fixed income.”

The board voted in favor of this bill under the grounds that they have no choice at this point in time due to digest and submission process timelines.

However, citizens have until Monday, July 1, 2019 to file an appeal with the board, which will likely go to the Board of Equalization and potentially the superior court.

The board also states that they will re-address this issue and give full clarification from the proper state authorities by Tuesday, January 1, 2020.

Stay tuned for developments on this bill as they become known!

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Indian Chief Nearly Arrested During Tax Assessors Meeting

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Chief Gees-Due OO-Neh-Gah Usti (pictured above) of the Southern Cherokee Nation and The Red Fire People was nearly arrested during the Gilmer County Tax Assessor’s Meeting held on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

One of the first orders of business for the meeting was a follow-up to the exempt property application filed by the Southern Cherokee Nation and Red Fire People during previous Tax Assessor’s meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2019 in which the board voted against the application.

Chief Gees-Due OO-Neh-Gah Usti began by stating that the judge representing the Southern Cherokee Nation and The Red Fire People was running late and requested that the matter be pushed back to a later part of the meeting, which the board denied later stating that the agenda had already been voted on and approved.

Board of Assessors (June 2019)

The vote to deny the application once again came swiftly without much prior discussion.

Things were understandably heated during the meeting, and the law enforcement stationed at the court house were called in shortly after the meeting started and stayed for the remainder of the meeting.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was contacted prior to the meeting confirming no association with the Southern Cherokee Nation and The Red Fire People, which the Chief stated was correct.

The International Revenue Service (IRS) was also contacted in regards to the Southern Cherokee Nation being a 501(c)(3) Organization, which the Chief states no legitimate tribe is considered as such in the United States.

The Chief went on to state that his tribe creates their own funds through economic development and thus did not become a part of the voluntary Bureau of Indian Affairs in which tribes willingly receive funds from the US government, and that they are recognized by over 30 countries throughout the world.

The Chief states that they have treaties with the United States, and claims that under Article 6 of the United States constitution, the board has no jurisdiction in the matter of the treaties, and that the only branch of the government that may negotiate with a tribe is the Federal Government. Further, he cites that the case Worcester v Georgia proves his people’s sovereignty.

One of the recurring topics regarding the Exempt Property Application is unmistakably the proposed religious usage of the donated land, which County Attorney David Clark pointed out there has still been no proof of. The Chief retorted that it is the burden of the board to prove religious intent. It was also stated previously by Chief Appraiser Theresa Gooch that no religious structure is required to signify religious intent.

The board voted the application down once again, with only Jerry Davis abstaining. According to Gooch, next up is to certify this to the Board of Equalization, with the Chief threatening legal action, but stay tuned for future updates in this story!


 
 
 
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