New tax notices stir ire of some property owners

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Lincoln County officials have been busy over the last few daysdealing with residents upset over new property values released lastweek following a state-mandated county-wide propertyreappraisal.

Confusion over wording in the notices sent out Monday, July 2,had many property owners fuming over the perceived time period setaside for objecting to the appraisals that were done by ReedHerring and Associates.

The notices, many of which were not received until late in theweek, gave an impression that property owners had until Friday tocontact the tax assessor’s office. However, property owners haveuntil August 6 to voice objections to the board of supervisors.

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“People who object to the new amounts need to come in and talkto the board of supervisors,” said County Administrator TillmonBishop.

Over 11,000 notices were sent out last Monday to owners whoseproperty values had increased by $1,000 or more from 2000 to 2001following a state-mandated reappraisal.

The notices created a furor at the tax assessor’s office asconfused and angry recipients sought answers from taxofficials.

The notices included a sentence that questions could be answeredbetween July 2 and July 6, and that property value rolls would beopen for public inspection during the month of July. TaxAssessor-Collector Nancy Jordan was in the office last week, butshe is out of town this week attending a required tax trainingcourse.

Some other recipients thought the notices were a bill or thatthe county was trying to sell their land. Tax officials said thatwas not the case, and the notices were simply informing people ofhow much their property values had changed.

Multiple tax office phone lines were flooded Friday and clerksstayed busy Monday with more calls and people coming in to talkabout the notices. Clerks were directing callers to the board ofsupervisors to schedule a hearing time during next month’smeeting.

Bishop, as clerk for the board, said the Aug. 6 meeting willstart at 9 a.m., but he was staggering hearings, with several on anhourly basis. He could not say how long the hearing withsupervisors, Jordan and Herring would last.

“We’re expecting to leave after all the objections arefinalized, whenever that is,” Bishop said.

According to Sect. 27-35-93 of the state code, “a person who isdissatisfied with the assessment may, at the August meeting,present objections thereto in writing which shall be filed by theclerk and docketed and preserved with the roll. All persons whofail to file objections shall be concluded by the assessment andprecluded from questioning its validity after it final approval bythe board of supervisors.” Bishop said property rolls must besubmitted to the state by the end of the year.

In case citizens can’t attend the August meeting, Bishop said hewas encouraging citizens to write a letter of objection.

“That’s for their benefit as well as ours,” Bishop said.

Bishop added, however, that objections will be heard regardlessof whether a letter is submitted.

“I want anybody who has an objection to come,” Bishop said.

Bishop pointed out there are over 20,000 property parcels in thecounty. He said he received about 15 calls from citizens concernedabout the notices.

“It’s not a crisis, but it does need to be looked at,” Bishopsaid.

Other rumblings from property owners include displeasure overthe values themselves. In some cases the values have doubled,tripled or more.

Jordan last week told supervisors that values cannot be comparedto those from last year. She said they must be compared to what thevalue would be if the property were put up for sale on the openmarket.

Property values are used in conjunction with the tax levy, whichis expressed as a millage rate, to determine how much in taxescitizens pay on land, homes, automobiles and other forms ofproperty. Bishop said supervisors are very concerned about thehigher assessed values.

“One of the options supervisors are looking at is lowering themillage to try and offset the (value) increase,” Bishop said.

District 5 Supervisor Gary Walker agreed.

“I want to lower the millage all we can,” Walker said.

With the concerns over the reappraisal, Bishop said anotheroption supervisors have is to not accept the new property rolls.That would mean they would need to be redone and the state wouldlikely question the board’s rejection decision.

“You’d have to be able to justify that,” Bishop said.