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Forsyth County News

Tax spat with department store settled

The Forsyth County Board of Tax Assessors ratified a settlement with Kohl’s Department Stores during a meeting Thursday.

Members voted 5-0 to accept the agreement, which lowered the personal property values set at the company’s two local stores for 2003-11.

The appeal, filed in 2008 in Forsyth County Superior Court, took issue with the county’s assessment of personal property, which includes inventory, furniture and fixtures in the stores, said Mary Kirkpatrick, county tax assessor.

"We had a difference of opinion with them on inventory issues and how you calculate inventory values," she said.

Kohl’s received a 15 percent reduction from the original assessment for those years.

Kirkpatrick said the county "came out fairly well" as a result of the settlement, which was reached in arbitration.

The matter cost Forsyth County about $26,000 in attorney’s fees, she said.


Alyssa LaRenzie

The owners of Lanier Golf Club are asking the Forsyth County Board of Tax Assessors to reconsider the appraisals of both Lanier and Hampton Golf Village.

According to Jack Manton, who addressed the five-member board at its recent meeting, both courses have been appraised at three times the fair market value.

He and co-owner George Bagley Jr. filed an appeal earlier this year, objecting to the more than $3.6 million appraisal of the 172-acre Lanier Golf Club and the $3.4 million of the 175-acre Hampton.

Those values were determined using a traditional appraisal method, which Manton argued is not valid in the current state of the golf course industry.

"We would propose that the only way to accurately determine the value of Lanier Golf Course and the Hampton Golf Course would be to use the income approach supported by sales," he said. "The only number you need to determine fair market value is income."

Using that method, Manton said, Lanier in east Forsyth would be valued at $1.05 million and Hampton in north Forsyth at $1.2 million.

The income approach, which he said is how sales of golf courses are conducted, is based on the income times a multiplier based on what a buyer would actually pay.

"The most that a golf course that takes in $1.05 million can [sell for] is one times that number," Manton said. "It turns out to be a multiple of one because it matches my revenues, and that’s how they’re all sold."

According to the tax assessor’s board, the county doesn’t currently use that methodology of determining value.

The panel, however, voted 4-0 on Thursday to have office staff research and review the alternate appraisal process for the appeal.

Member Ken Leach recused himself from the vote and was not present for the discussion.

Tax Assessor Mary Kirkpatrick said the office has three different approaches to appraisals: cost, market and income.

The cost method has been used in the case of the county’s golf courses, Kirkpatrick said.

That equation considers the cost to replace the land improvements as new, minus depreciation, plus the cost of the land.

The market method compares a property to others that have sold, while the income method uses a formula focused on income minus expenses.

The method Manton presented, Kirkpatrick said, is not the same as the formula-based income approach the county uses.

"We’ve not really seen anybody do anything in this method," she said. "It’s worthy of research to see it’s a valid methodology."

Member Rick O’Brien agreed the income approach would typically consider a net value.

"But if that’s what’s happening in the industry and it’s consistent, then that methodology may be acceptable," O’Brien said of Manton’s proposal.

Manton said the practice of basing an appraisal off a sellable price should be what the office aspires to, something the current values don’t reflect.

"No one sells [golf courses] on appraisals," he said. "No one even gets appraisals anymore. They’re totally useless for buying and selling."