Forsyth County’s chief tax appraiser told a gathering of property owners Thursday night about upcoming changes to the home assessment process.
Mary Kirkpatrick said the main difference will come in mid-April, when residents will receive a notice advising them of their property value.
The notice will also include an estimate of what the property taxes likely will be, based on last year’s millage rate.
“It may look like a piece of junk mail,” Kirkpatrick said. “Don’t throw it away … this is an attempt to let folks know what their taxes are going to be.”
Previously, notices were only sent to owners whose property values had risen or fallen.
But as a result of a state law passed last year, all property owners must receive an annual status of their homes' value.
Kirkpatrick reminded the crowd of about 20 at the public information session that the letter is not a bill.
It is just an estimate so people can see how their property is assessed, and give them enough time to file an appeal, asking the assessor’s office to take a second look.
The last day to file an appeal is May 31, or 45 days after April 15, when the letters are scheduled to go out.
Property owners who seek an appeal must note whether they want the matter to be sent to the board of equalization, a hearing officer or be handled in a binding arbitration.
Kirkpatrick said failure to indicate a preference will result in the appeal being sent to the board, the only free option of the three.
Dennis Roucek said he came to the meeting because he was concerned about “deteriorating home values, and I wanted to see how the county was going to be addressing that.”
“I felt with the reduction in retail value, that my value should be reduced somewhat ... everybody’s not just mine,” he said.
Kirkpatrick said about 77,535 notices are being mailed. Nearly 66,000 of those will show a drop in assessed value and about 9,600 will show no change.
The value of nearly 2,000 of those properties will increase, but only because they are either new purchases, or have undergone an addition, such as a pool or new rooms.
Some new homeowners will be at an advantage thanks to another change this year, she said. They will pay taxes on the purchase amount for the first year, instead of the assessed value.
In an era of high foreclosure and short sale rates, this could be a benefit to those who got a deal on their home.
After the year is up, however, Kirkpatrick said the home will be reassessed and the owner will pay on the assessed value.
Roucek said with all the information presented during the meeting, “Mary did a great job of explaining things I was interested in.”
George Gaston agreed, saying he “learned a fair amount.”
Kirkpatrick said she had hoped more people would attend the meeting to learn about the changes.
Her concern is people will open the notices and write a check, assuming it’s a bill.
She encouraged the crowd, as well as those residents who didn’t attend, to contact her office with any questions.
“When you get this notice, if you think it’s too high, come talk to us and let us know," she said. "Let us show you why we ended up where we did. And if you don’t agree with us, you show us why. We’re not unreasonable.
“File your appeal and come talk to us. That’s the best advice I can give anyone.”