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Property owners to receive estimates before being billed
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By Friday, Liberty County property owners should have known the assessed values of their businesses, boats and real properties for the 2011 tax year.

For the first time, the Liberty County Tax Assessors office sent a notice of assessment to every property owner as required by SB346, a new state law on ad valorem taxes.

“This is something that is brand-new that we’ve had to contend with,” chief appraiser Glenda Roberts said. The law requires the notices, which will include a property value and an estimated tax amount based on last year’s millage rate, to be sent out annually.

After receiving the notifications, taxpayers will have a 45-day period to question and appeal their assessments through the tax assessors office, Roberts said.

The law provides taxpayers with an estimated amount four or five months before they are billed, which allows them to prepare for the expenditure, she said.

In the past, the assessors only sent change-of-assessment notifications to new property owners and those who experienced a change in valuation.

The office’s process for determining property values will remain the same, Roberts said. Liberty County property values are assessed annually through mass “desktop appraisals,” where six appraisers examine property-related activity to determine whether values within their areas have changed.

“They look at what’s going on in their particular section of the county, whether it’s stagnant, whether there’s a slight property increase due to sales or whether there’s a sales decline,” Roberts said. “We may reassess and come to the conclusion that your property values are right where they need to be.”

Assessors complete physical appraisals on a four-year rotation in compliance with the legal mandate that the county must visit every real property within a three- to five-year window, she said.

Taxpayers should bear in mind that this notice is not a bill because it is based on last year’s millage rate, Roberts said.
Residents should expect to receive their actual bills with the 2011 millage rate around December, according to Kim McGlothlin, finance officer with the Liberty County Tax Commissioner.

“I know the board does not wish to increase the millage,” McGlothlin said. “We’re crossing our fingers and hoping the digest produces a budget that will substantiate at the current rate.”

The 2010 rate assigned by the county is 11.3, or 1.13 percent, within Hinesville city limits and 11.98, or 1.198 percent, in the rest of the county, she said. The tax commissioner’s office will begin to determine 2011 millage rates after the 45-day appeal period ends in August.

The assessor’s office anticipates a flood of questions about the change, and Roberts said it will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 7 p.m. Wednesdays in July to explain the change to residents.

Residents can reach the tax commissioner’s office at 876-2823.

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