Bob Newhouse moved to Elbert County 20 years ago and bought a modest-sized home on 60 acres of land. He made improvements to the land over the years, with the last being a barn he built in 2010. …
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Bob Newhouse moved to Elbert County 20 years ago and bought a modest-sized home on 60 acres of land. He made improvements to the land over the years, with the last being a barn he built in 2010. Every two years he, along with every other property owner in the county, receives a revaluation assessment from the county assessor. This year, Newhouse was shocked to learn that his property was assessed 36 percent higher than the last revaluation.
“I have made zero improvements to my property,” said Newhouse, who is retired and lives on a fixed income. “It’s ridiculous to have a 36 percent increase in the taxable value of my property.”
Newhouse is not alone in his outrage, as hundreds of residents attended a community sponsored meeting May 10 to discuss the assessment process and how to appeal the assessments, which were sent to 13,682 property owners earlier this month. Some residents say they saw increases as high as 60%, and are crying foul on the process used by the county assessor.
“They’re basing the increase on comparables of other homes, but they have no other home of my size on my acreage to compare it to,” said Newhouse. “The median value change for my area was 29.86%, yet my value is 7% higher than that. They have no explanation for me.”
According to Elbert County Assessor Susan Murphy, a mass appraisal was done using a statistical analysis based on the market approach to value, and her office has published a map showing comparable home sales on their website.
“We are basically valuing a universe of properties using a statistical process,” said Murphy. “Market transactions are really dictating this, and we understand that some increases are higher than they’ve been in a while. In 2017 the western portion of the county saw an increase, and now it’s hitting the eastern part of the county.”
Murphy said there are several reasons for an increase in value based on property characteristics, including the type of home, finishing a basement, building additional structures on the property or the age of a home.
“We realize that property owners know their property better than we do, and we encourage anyone who has an issue to file an appeal, which they can do online, or come into the office and talk to us about it,” said Murphy. “We have a lot of resources online to help residents understand the process, and welcome any questions they may have about their valuations.”
Newhouse said he has filed an appeal, and is awaiting the results, but feels the process unfairly places the burden of proof on landowners.
“I understand there’s going to be an increase, but this places the burden on me,” said Newhouse. “I shouldn’t have to prove what my property is worth, and sadly I believe most people won’t appeal their valuations because they don’t know they can, or they don’t know how to.”
Information can be found at https://www.elbertcounty-co.gov/assessor.php#.VRsO7-ESPEY, or by calling Murphy’s office at 303-621-3101. Appeals must be submitted by June 1.
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