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Values to cost county

By Sherri Ellington With the state moratorium on property values lifted, the Lamar County board of assessors is looking at a scramble to get values back in line with Department of Revenue standards. Or, they could leave them as is and bite a smaller bullet in penalties while leaving nearly $900,000 in county revenue in place. Commissioner Nancy Thrash, who was at the Aug. 11 meeting, advocated leaving the digest as is and taking the $46,000 penalty. ’When values go down, the digest goes down and services go down,’ she said. ‘We have to keep cutting. If the valuations are fair and equitable, pay the penalty.’ As of 2010, on which the 2011 budget was based, the tax digest was at 40.31%, which is right on target for DOR percentages. It allows an error range of 36% to 44%. However, when 2012 rolls around ‘“ using numbers from this year’s digest ‘“ Lamar County’s tax rate will jump to 60% just as the DOR puts back into place a $5 per parcel penalty for counties being over or under the limit. If the digest is adjusted for fair market value, it still will be at 50%. It could lower further when freeze-related cap values are removed but chief appraiser Jeannie Haddock was doubtful it would reach 44%.

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