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Tax officials getting ready for state-ordered reappraisal

With county and city budgets nearing completion, officials havehad some fairly stable property values upon which to base taxlevies for the upcoming new fiscal year.

That could change around budget time next year when new propertyvalues come in following a state-mandated reappraisal. Counties arefacing a 2002 deadline for having real property reappraised.

“We are in the process of preparing for the 2001 tax roll,” saidNancy Jordan, Lincoln County Tax Assessor-Collector.

Jordan said state officials had indicated they would not begranting extensions on the reappraisal deadline. Therefore, shesaid Lincoln County is working on the project now.

“You certainly don’t want to what until the last minute,” Jordansaid, mentioning potential problems with finding qualifiedappraisers to do the work later.

For taxpayers, the reappraisal means they will be getting taxbills based on new property values late in 2001 and when they paythe bills in early 2002. What effect the reappraisal will have ontaxes remains to be seen.

Like a mathematical equation, property values are used inconjunction with the tax levy, expressed as a millage rate, todetermine how much in taxes a person pays. Millage rates are setyearly by governing boards such as supervisors and aldermen.

Normally, values remain about the same and the millage rate isthe variable. Next year, however, both values and millage rateswill be changing.

To collect the same amount of dollars, if one value is raised,then the other must be lowered by a corresponding percentage.

Jordan said the reappraisal will result in some values beinghigher, some lower and some remaining the same. She said thereappraisal will not necessarily mean a tax increase.

“We don’t have any control over the tax amount,” Jordan said.”We are required to set a value that conforms to Mississippi TaxCommission guidelines.”

Jordan said values are to be determined based on “fair marketvalue,” which is the price a willing buyer and a willing sellerwould exchange a piece of property for in an “arm’s lengthtransaction.” Circumstances such as a family relationship are notto be considered in calculating values.

Lincoln County’s last countywide property reappraisal was in1997. Before that, it had been at least 15 years since the lastreappraisal.

Despite millage rate reductions by county supervisors and cityaldermen, a number of taxpayers saw their property taxes increase.Then, officials attributed the increases to large jumps in thevalues of some property, which could not be offset by millage ratedeclines.

Because of the shorter time period between reappraisals, Jordandid not expect value variations next year as dramatic as severalyears ago.

“I feel like the values we have now are a lot closer (to marketvalue) than what we had then,” Jordan said.