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Requests to reassess dip
April 1 is deadline
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Forsyth County News

To request a property reassessment, returns must be filed or postmarked by 5 p.m. April 1. For more information, call (770) 781-2106 or visit
Mary Kirkpatrick was pleasantly surprised to find that fewer people appear to be upset about their property values this year.

Last year, more than 6,000 homeowners sent in a request to have their property reassessed. So far, the number’s about 2,000 this year.

“We thought it was going to be a lot worse,” said Kirkpatrick, the county’s tax assessor. “But it’s looking to be maybe a little less.”

The requests, known as returns, are due by April 1.

Kirkpatrick expects the final number to be about 3,000 or so. But even with the decline in returns, Kirkpatrick’s staff will still be looking at property values.

“There are several areas we’re looking at and determining if they need to be lowered as a whole, without the return itself,” she said. “There are so many short sales out there. I don’t think you can really say it doesn’t affect the market.

“There are some neighborhoods that are showing stability and others that have declined.”

Some properties have actually increased in value, despite difficult economic conditions.

But a law enacted last year prevents assessments from rising until 2012.

As a result of more value decreases and no increases, Kirkpatrick expects the county’s tax digest, or total value of all properties in the county, to drop by as much as 5 percent.

In 2009, the digest was nearly $8.95 billion, meaning the 2010 digest can be as low as about $8.5 billion.

The decrease in digest means a decline in taxes collected by the county, resulting in an even tighter budget.

Financial woes could escalate further with pending state legislation, Kirkpatrick said, particularly with Senate Bill 346.

The bill, which the Senate passed unanimously, would make comprehensive changes to tax provisions.

Among the changes are those that would help taxpayers appeal their values and provide them with an annual notice outlining what their property is worth, what it’s been assessed at and an estimate of the current year’s taxes.

Currently, notices are only sent when assessed values are changed.  

Mailing the notices could cost about $33,000 a year, plus additional costs to determine taxes based on assessments and other costs.

The bill does not provide any state funding for the changes, placing the burden on county budgets.

Still, Kirkpatrick said, the law could help individual taxpayers.

“It really is going to give the taxpayer more opportunities to see what the value of their property is doing,” she said. “A lot of times with folks, we don’t change their assessments, they don’t complain and they don’t know to come file a return and then when they get their tax bill, they realize it didn’t change from last year. But when they come in, we’re telling them basically they’re too late.

“This is going to open that door to put a change of assessment notice out to every taxpayer.”