Reappraisal continues;, new figures due in July

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Area county efforts to reassign property values are continuing,and tax assessor-collectors are encouraging citizens to be preparedwhen new totals are listed later this year.

Nancy Jordan, Lincoln County tax assessor-collector, estimatedthat the process of field work and data collection was about 75percent completed.

“We have basically finished the City of Brookhaven, and we’reabout finished with the county,” Jordan said.

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Annette Applewhite, Lawrence County tax assessor-collector, saida reappraisal is also under way in her county. Both Jordan andApplewhite said the new values will take effect for the 2002 fiscalyear and be reflected in property tax notices later this year.

“I want our people to be ready,” Applewhite said.

Jordan said compilation of data and calculation of propertyvalues must be completed in time for new tax rolls that will beaccepted in July. With value calculation work still to be done, shewas unsure what effect the reappraisal has had.

“It will probably be the latter part of April before I can tellwhat it’s done,” Jordan said.

Applewhite estimated reappraisal work in her county to be about45 percent complete. She anticipated no problems in meeting thedeadline.

“We will not be able to tell them the effect of the new valuesuntil after the first of July,” Applewhite said.

Once completed, Jordan said new property values will be open forpublic review during July. Applewhite said new Lawrence Countyvalues will be open for review after July 16.

Citizens may come by and file objections to their new propertyvalues if they think they are not correct. Assessors andsupervisors will consider and act on the objections before new taxrolls are approved in time for budget preparation.

Jordan said market values are higher now than they were in 1997when the last countywide property value reappraisal was done. Manyresidents saw tax increases then, but Jordan warned against certaintax increases now.

“Just because you have higher values doesn’t mean you’ll havehigher taxes,” Jordan said. “It depends on what kind of budget youhave and how much money you have to have to fund it.”

Jordan said she is only responsible for assigning propertyvalues. County supervisors and city aldermen are responsible forsetting property tax levy millage rates to collect enough money tofund their respective operations.

“Hopefully, our millage rates will go down,” Jordan said.

Applewhite said the last Lawrence County-wide reappraisal wasdone in 1984. She said maintenance and property value updates havebeen done regularly since then, but she was still looking forhigher property values.

“I know there will be increases in values,” Applewhite said.

Possibly adding to the budget preparation mix later this year isan increase in homestead exemption benefits for homeowners. A billis pending in the state legislature.

“I feel like it will pass,” Jordan said.

Applewhite said she had “no doubt” the bill would pass.

Dist. 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said the House-passed bill is onthe Senate calender for action today, with a deadline for action atmidnight. She said the bill was sponsored by the entire Housemembership and she was looking for a good reception in theSenate.

“That’s going to pass,” the senator said.

With state-mandated reappraisals raising many residents’property values, the homestead exemption bill is intended to helpoffset some of that increase.

Under the special homestead exemption, seniors and the disabledcurrently are exempt from property taxes on up to $60,000 of theassessed value and they pay taxes on any value over that amount.The legislation would raise that to $75,000.

The bill would also help those who file regular homesteadexemption. The legislation would increase the maximum homesteadexemption credit from $240 to $300.

“The young people are going to get help, too,” Jordan said.

Hyde-Smith said the bill would affect 12 state counties thathave completed their reappraisals. Other counties would fall underthe legislation when the complete their reappraisals.