Jul. 28—LEESBURG — Chief Lee County Appraiser Dennis Lee gave an update on the property revaluation process during the Lee County Commission's Tuesday meeting..
Lee reported that the process was in the final stages with assessment notices scheduled to go out Friday. In explaining the ongoing revaluation, Lee said he wanted to ensure that property owners had a clear understanding of the process.
"You have 45 days to appeal the assessment, not the estimated tax shown on the assessment," Lee said. "That estimated tax is based on last year's millage rate with the new assessment, which is going to be incorrect. But that's the way the law that we have to follow is written."
In an effort to make the appeals process as easy as possible, the county has set up a number of methods a property owner can use to contest their appraisal if the desire to do so.
"You can come in and file an appeal in the office," Lee said. "We can take about five people at a time, but others will have to wait their turn to get in. We have a drop box outside where you can drop your appeal, or you can write a letter of appeal."
He also explained that an online appeal link was set up on the website qpublic.net/ga/lee and will be activated Monday for online comparison of property values and appeals.
"If you have a question on how to use the site you can call us," Lee said. "This lets you go online and see what similar properties are selling for. You have to fill out an asserted value on the site or the appeal will not go through. You cannot put a zero."
Every assessment notice that goes out will have a flyer explaining the appeals process. Lee went on the explain that it had been more than 15 years since the last assessment had been done. That valuation not only had serious discrepancies in values of similar parcels, but property values in the county have increased dramatically over that period since the depreciation tables were created in 2005.
Commissioner Rick Muggeridge asked if there were other steps for property owners if they did not agree with the arbitration results.
"You have the right to appeal to the board of equalization or arbitration, or a hearing officer if the property is commercial and appraised at over $500,000," Lee replied. "So there are additional avenues of appeal if you do not get what you think is a satisfactory answer from our office."
"I think this will be the most transparent process ever," Muggridge said, lauding Lee and his staff for their work. "(It's) more data for the taxpayer than they have ever had before."
"The public needs to realize what they are appealing," Commission Chairman Billy Mathis said. "If they appeal anything, it is the value of their home. Some people might be shocked when they see the tax bill, but that is not the final tax number. We are required to send that out by the current mileage rate. After we finish this process, the Board of Commissioners will get together and decide what this year's millage rate will be.
"I think it important for the public to know we don't intend to raise taxes in Lee Co. So what that means is we will roll back the mileage rate so the estimated tax on the notice is not what most people will pay. If you don't agree with that value you can appeal. ... If we have a perfect world your value of your property will be higher and your tax bill should not be any higher."
In other business, commission heard a report from Paul Friar with Congressman Sanford Bishop's office relating to the $5,816,000 the county has received from the American Rescue Plan for infrastructure. Mathis asked if these funds might be used for the radio communications upgrade the commission is currently considering. Friar said he was not sure if this was a possibility but stated he would get back to the commission with clarification.
The commission had another opportunity to ask the representatives from Motorola for additional information on their needs and solutions in regard to those issues. Muggeridge and Commissioner Luke Singletary questioned the need for replacing all the radios as well as why they seemed to need frequent updates