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County tax revenue projections plunge

By Sherri Ellington With 493 open valuation appeals pending and the mobile home and automobile values yet to be added, the Lamar County tax digest fell some $12 million, translating to a loss of $800,000 in tax revenue for the county. ’We don’t have enough,’ said county manager Bob Zellner at the June 28 tax assessors’ meeting called to approve the tentative digest so it can be sent to tax commissioner Andrea Anthony. Ad valorem taxes will be added and Anthony is to send the digest to the state revenue department by Aug. 1. The gross real and personal property digest was $482,611,773, down from 2011 levels of $512,290,365. The 40% of that which is taxable fell from $13,318,047 to $12,544,045. ’Hopefully the motor vehicle taxes will help,’ said chief appraiser Jeannie Haddock. While Anthony supplies the actual numbers, Haddock estimated ad valorem taxes could go up from $36 million to $45 million. ’Mobile homes have gone up and timber has gone up a lot,’ Haddock said. In addition, Enercon came off its tax abatements and the partially built Piedmont Green Power came on the digest for the first time, though not at 100%. Together they added $1 million to the digest. ’I also look for utilities to go up when the state sends me those numbers in September or October,’ said Haddock. Of the appeals ‘“ which was not a final number since the deadline fell on Sunday, June 30 ‘“ some 250 are in the 30-day appeal request stage and 20 are headed to the board of equalization. They will affect the final total of the digest. About 123 were from the bank that owns the defunct Woodall Estates subdivision. The bank wants the lot values halved. ’The state legislature messed us up bad when it comes to valuing subdivisions,’ Haddock said, noting a state law that first froze values at prereal estate bust levels then declared foreclosure and other low-value sales must be considered when figuring fair market value. ’There’s one guy who bought 17 lots on 62 acres and will pay $500 in taxes for it. A lot of the digest losses are due to this senate bill.’ Assessors also discussed an upcoming change in motor vehicle ad valorem taxes which will not go into effect until 2013. Under the new law, all vehicle buyers will pay a 7% surtax on the stateset value of the auto when they apply for a new tag. This will include person – to – person sales. Those values, however, will be appealable at the local level.

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