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Bennett says reassessment likely again next year

A property reassessment will be likely again next year, according to Grady County Chief Appraiser Susan Bennett.
Ms. Bennett appeared before the Grady County Board of Commissioners Thursday to review the most recent sales study conducted by the Georgia Department of Revenue.
The state recently pulled a random sampling of 50 real property sales made this year. The sales study resulted in a sales ratio of 36.37 percent, which is below the 40 percent target.
The ratio in 2012 had dropped to 34.75 and the tax assessors office had to reassess property, with most property dropping in value, according to Ms. Bennett.
The county’s chief appraiser blames bank sales and foreclosures for driving down values.
County Commissioner Charles Norton noted that last year all of the sample sales pulled by the Department of Revenue for last year’s sales ratio study had been residential.
Ms. Bennett said that due to a lack of commercial and agricultural sales she said that 90 percent of the sales used in this year’s study were residential as well.
Because many properties have been foreclosed on or short sold by banks the sales prices have been lower than the value of the property on the county’s books.
According to Ms. Bennett, although she recognizes the sales price is well below the fair market value she cannot disqualify those sales and she has to reassess property of similar value accordingly.
However, the chief appraiser said that the following year she can adjust those values up.
“It’s bank foreclosures that’s killing us then,” Norton said.
The District 3 commissioner continued to question how values could continue to decline and the sales ratio percentage not increase.
“When things were going good in 2006, 2007 and 2008 sales prices were soaring and the ratio always fell on the low side. After the moratorium was lifted and sales prices had come way down you would think the ratio would go up,” Norton said.
Ms. Bennett noted without a reassessment the state could fine the county $5 per parcel and could eventually cut off state funding to the county.
Vice Chairman T.D. David questioned the reasoning behind using values of foreclosed properties or short sales without an adjustment.
“I don’t see using values of foreclosed properties without some adjustment in rating other properties,” Vice Chairman David said.
Ms. Bennett pointed out the law specifically prohibits her from excluding values of foreclosed properties when building a schedule of sales.
The chief appraiser said that based on the sample of sales pulled by the state, the values for agricultural and commercial properties are in line, but residential values on the county’s books are too low.

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