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Homeowners have three ways to appeal
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Forsyth County News
There are three ways the 21,300 Forsyth County homeowners whose property was reassessed this year can appeal the results.

The process is free but lengthy, said Mary Kirkpatrick, county tax assessor.

“We’re still hearing appeals from the board of equalization from last year,” she said.

Any appeals sent to the tax assessor’s office automatically go to the county’s board of equalization.

The board reviews any information the homeowner and assessor’s office present and then determines a fair assessment value.

But homeowners who have had their homes privately appraised since December 2007 can request nonbonding arbitration instead of going to the board.

Three arbitrators use the homeowner’s appraisal to determine a fair amount. The homeowner gets to choose and pay for one of the three arbitrators, as does the county. The parties split the cost of the third.

Total cost to the homeowner can range from $750 to $1,500, said Kirkpatrick, which is why she believes no one in the county has ever sought nonbonding arbitration.

A new state law passed this session may offer a cheaper and faster option called binding arbitration.

Homeowners must request the binding arbitration when they send in their appraisal and appeal.

Within 30 days, the assessor’s office must then either accept or disagree with their appraisal. If they agree with it, changes follow.

“If we don’t think the appraisal is right, we send it to arbitration, which is a court hearing,” Kirkpatrick said. “The loser pays the bill.

“If someone has a good appraisal, it’s definitely a good alternative. But if you lose the arbitration, this could cost you $500, $600, $700.”

One arbitrator conducts the process and has 30 days to side with either the county’s assessment or the homeowner’s appraisal.

Regardless of which of the three options homeowners choose, an appeal must be postmarked by close of business July 6.

Kirkpatrick said several have already come in.

The appeals process can alter the county’s tax digest, she said, though not by much.

“It’s going to end up somewhere in the $8.9 billion range, even after the changes,” she said. “That still gives you over $100 million worth of play there, and they’re not going to change enough where it’s going to substantially affect either budget [school system or county government].

“When I’m at the point where I’m willing to turn over numbers to the school board and county, they’re fairly accurate.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at