County still working on property values

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 27, 2001

Lincoln County supervisors Thursday continued the process ofequalizing local property values following a state-mandatedreappraisal.

Despite their desires to possibly do more, though, supervisorsagreed that any value adjustments they make must pass muster withState Tax Commission guidelines.

“We know the State of Mississippi is in charge. We ain’t,” saidDistrict 2 Supervisor Bobby J. Watts.

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After contacting state tax commission officials, supervisorsrejected a suggestion for an item-by-item review of the county’sapproximately 23,000 parcels and concentrated efforts on theapproximately 250 people who objected to new values. The objectionsinvolve about 800 parcels.

Before supervisors Thursday was a recap of objectors’ oldproperty values, the new values following the appraisal, and newadjusted values made by appraisers following recent hearings. Noapproval action was taken on any adjustments yesterday.

Supervisors indicated they would accept newly-adjusted lowervalues and speak with appraiser Wayne Herring about cases wherevalues were not adjusted down, and even a few where values rose asa result of missed property being added during a review ofobjections. County officials were resuming their meeting Fridaymorning.

Local tax officials said adjustments awaiting board action wouldbarely allow the county to stay within fair market valueguidelines.

Property owners who objected to their new values are to benotified regarding whatever action the board takes.

During yesterday’s meeting, Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordanreminded supervisors that the “old values” are from the lastreappraisal in 1996, and not from 2000 as many have referred tothem as being.

Jordan said the 1996 values are too far out of line with fairmarket value guidelines. If they were in line, she said, therewould have been no need for a reappraisal.

“We’ve just got to decide if we’ve got a right value today,”Jordan said about the new appraisal numbers.

The county has been warned the past two years that it needed toaddress its property value situation. A preliminary study of newLincoln County values following the reappraisal met stateguidelines, said Sid Smith, director of the property division ofthe state tax commission.

For the current year, supervisors must have a property valueroll to the state by Sept. 10, Smith said. Property values alsoplay a big role in budget preparations, and officials must have aroll in order to calculate expected tax revenue for the new fiscalyear that starts Oct. 1.

Smith said any value adjustments by supervisors must besupported by factual evidence.

“The board doesn’t have the authority to go in and fixsomebody’s appraisal,” Smith said. “They have to have a reason forit.”

Formal state approval of new county values is pending thecounty’s property roll submission and a ratio study by thestate.

“We can’t do a final study until we get a roll,” Smith said.

In the ratio study, tax commission officials will compareproperties’ selling price with its appraised value. Smith saidappraised property values must be within 80 and 120 percent of aproperty’s true market value.

If the state rejects adjusted property values, it may:

* Allow use the adjusted values, but give the county a year toget them within fair market value guidelines.

* Reject the adjusted values and require the county to usevalues derived during the appraisal.

* Pursue legal action against the county for failure to getvalues in line.