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the issue. “Before we start our regular meeting, I want to address the reason why I think most of you are here today, and that’s because of the tax assessment notice that you got in the mail.
“Property tax assessments were sent out because your property has been re-evaluated; the form is not a bill, and most of you probably looked at the bottom part of the bill with the dollar figure on it. That uses a millage rate that was set last year for the tax purposes of last year. That millage rate is not correct – that rate will roll back to equal the 2023 dollar amounts that were collected for last year for the budget we are operating on this year. So, the millage rate – we don’t know what it will be, we will not set that millage rate until this August – could roll back to equal this year’s amount. So at this point, there is no tax increase.”
Adams informed the citizens that the millage rate will not be rolled back if the Commission sees that more money is needed to operate the 2024 budget than was needed for the 2023 budget. In that case, there will be three public hearings on the millage rate increase before the Commission votes on the rate.
“The property appraisal form was designed and sent out by the Tax Assessor’s Board to tell you the new evaluation of your property, which has not been appraised or assessed in about three years. With the economy like it is, the cost of housing, the cost of buying and selling and building, the cost of everything has gone up – that’s why there is a large increase,” he added.
According to Adams, those who believe their appraised value is too high should discuss the matter with the Montgomery County Tax Assessor’s office; if the citizen still believes the appraisal is incorrect after speaking with the office, they should file an appeal.
He added, “If you have a question on the items on your notice, you need to check what buildings and what all on your property is being assessed. The square footage of your house may be different than what they’re showing – you need to make sure all of that is right. Once you do that, and the Board of Assessors provides the tax digest, we will set the millage rate.”
One citizen who rose to address the Commissioners complained, “The value on my house went up by 94%, and I haven’t done a thing to my house but cut the grass. So, I feel like we are owed some kind of an explanation on our evaluations. We are not here to argue – I know he said the tax rate hasn’t been set yet. But we know our evaluation, and our taxes are based on our evaluation. Anybody with any common sense couldn’t justify almost a 100% increase in a property value when the owner hasn’t done anything but cut the grass.”
Adams responded, “Whether you added to your property or not has no variable; the value of your property is based on the value of your property on the market,” he explained.
“But nobody came out to our houses and looked at our property,” one woman exclaimed. “What did they do – Google Earth it?”
Adams countered, “They know what is on your property, [and] they know what the square footage of your property is. The value of the property has gone up, whether it is new construction or old construction. If you were to try to sell it, it would not meet that value. You would have to hire an appraiser to come out and appraise the property.”
A citizen asked if they hired a private appraiser to assess their property, would the County base the property taxes on this new assessment. Adams told the man that he could attempt that, and he could not answer whether the new value would be accepted or not, but that it could be used in the appeal.
More citizens began to speak up, saying things such as, “We are citizens of this county; we are owed an explanation,” and “The Tax Assessor Board will get you nowhere…we’ve all been down that path before.” One woman even shared that she had spoken with the Tax Assessor Board on many occasions about the way they handle business with the citizens of the County, but nothing seemed to improve. “When they get to where they don’t care about the people anymore, maybe they need to be replaced.”
“We’re all in this room, and we’re all upset. Who gets a raise on their paycheck every week? Nobody. You get it? That’s why we’re here. Tell us what we want to hear, tell us the right way!” one man demanded.
One woman, who identified herself as Amie Vassey, presented the facts that she had received from the Montgomery County Tax Assessor’s Office on Monday, June 12, which detailed the 19 homes used to determine the rise in appraisals. “That is one-half of 1% of homes in Montgomery County,” she emphasized. “There are 3,800 homes in our County. But only 19 houses were looked at by this company who we paid to do this. I looked through these 19 homes, and of them, around seven homes matched my home as far as structure and square footage. Of those seven homes, all of them were valued at $140,000$150,00, but my assessment says that my home is valued at $204,000. It doesn’t even fit. I thought these assessments were based on uniformity? I’m not saying these evaluations that they are based on is wrong, I’m just saying something was lost in translation.”
She continued, “This type of issue is blanketed over the County. These assessments are grossly, grossly overstated. I’ve been talking with people across the County and one person reported a $100,000 increase. Another person reported $60,000 increase. I think it should have been around 30% of the county surveyed, which would be around 1,100 homes.”
Other concerns arose from citizens on issues such as the checks and balances of the Board of Tax Assessors, and the plans of the County to protect senior citizens from losing their homes because of a rise in taxes.
The Commission continued to share that they themselves were experiencing a property value increase and understood the concern. “I’m just like y’all – I got an increase on my property value, too,” Commissioner Clarence Thomas explained. “I understand where you’re coming from.”
Commissioner Chad Kenney explained to the attendees that the millage rate would determine the taxes. He asked citizens to be vigilant for the announcement of the millage rate to know what the set taxes would be.
The commissioners encouraged individuals to appeal their assessments at the Tax Assessor’s Office. According to County Manager Brandon Braddy, Appeals will then be heard by the Board of Tax Assessors, which consists of Jesse Fountain, Maecon Beard, Joyce Allen, Daniel Chadwick Harrison, and Nina Thompson. Once that Board has made their decision, the Board of Equalization can hear further appeals.
Photo by Makaylee Randolph