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County officials explain higher property tax assessments
Money

Recently, property value assessments for Forsyth County homes were mailed out, likely at a higher amount than in previous years. This week, Forsyth County officials let residents know why.

At a Forsyth County Commission meeting on Thursday, Mary Kirkpatrick, the county’s chief appraiser, said values went up this year due to a change in how materials are considered in the assessment.

“This year, we did something that we don’t do except every four or five years and that is we adjusted what we called our building cost table,” Kirkpatrick said. 

The table is a calculation of the cost of construction and permit activities, such as new additions or finished basements, which can change over time.

“These cost tables are what drive the assessments to create that estimated value we assume should be close to the sell price,” Kirkpatrick said. “If we don’t change these tables, older homes just sit there and don’t catch up to what the market is actually doing.”

She said while the assessments hurt as a taxpayer, as an owner that means the value goes up.

Earlier this week, Kirkpatrick told the Forsyth County News the increase was in line with recent real estate trends in the county. The county continues to see its population grow, as people are attracted to its overall quality of life, and so property values have grown with it. Since 2010, Forsyth County’s population has grown 24.50 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimated 2018 statistics.

Dave Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer, said that “among 60,000 parcels, about 85 percent of those parcels saw an increase in valuation of 15 percent or less.”

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said she and other commissioners got complaints from residents when the assessments went out. She said after getting some answers from Kirkpatrick she wanted to give the community a similar opportunity.

“I just wanted people to understand. I had not looked at my own tax bill closely, and when I started getting complaints, I asked the tax commissioner’s office to evaluate it,” she said. “It went way up, more than I had even thought it had.”

Kirkpatrick said the board of tax assessors, which made the decision, is independent of both commissioners and the local school board.

“What we do is we do annual evaluations of all the properties in the county,” she said. “The evaluations we do is from where the market is. We research every sale that occurs in Forsyth County during the previous year and the first three months of the next year.

“Analysis is done to determine where we are compared to the market.”

This year, the average home price in Forsyth County increased 2.8 percent, according to Kirkpatrick, from around $250,000 to $257,000.

Owners can appeal the assessment until July 5. 

Kirkpatrick recommended going to the department’s page at Forsythco.com/Departments-Offices/Board-of-Assessors for more information, including a video answering some questions on the increase. She said anyone with issues with their assessment should contact the department.