Fulton County property owners will see new assessment notices in early August.
The county’s Board of Assessors approved the new values Thursday, clearing the way for assessment notices to be sent. County commissioners last month decided to keep residential assessments at 2016 values after an outcry from residents who saw their property values increase much more than they expected.
Additionally, preliminary estimates for the county’s tax digest put it at $52.4 billion — that’s a 4.2 percent increase from 2016, largely on the strength of higher commercial assessments.
But it’s still almost 7 percent lower than early estimates. Before the 2017 values were returned to last year’s levels, the county expected a $56.3 billion tax digest. It was $50.3 billion in 2016.
Dwight Robinson, Fulton County’s chief appraiser, said the numbers are preliminary until signed off by the tax commissioner. They do not include the results of any appeals, since a new appeal window will open when assessments go in the mail Aug. 4. They will appear online the same day.
Robinson said he doesn’t expect any push-back from commercial property owners upset that residential values will generally be assessed at lower rates, while theirs are higher than last year’s.
“I haven’t heard any chatter that there’s going to be a mass revolution,” he said.
The appeals window will be open until Sept. 18, and tax bills are expected to go out in early October. They will be due in early December, if there are no delays in the process. Tax money needs to be collected in the same year properties are assessed, Robinson said.
“It’s cutting it close, but it’s doable,” he said. “I just wanted them to approve it, and thank God we did.”
The county, cities and school boards still need to set their tax rates, which they expect to do in early September.
Although the uproar that led to the assessment change came due to sticker shock from high values — half of the county’s 318,000 parcels had assessments that were up at least 20 percent, while nearly a quarter of homeowners saw their values rise by 50 percent or more — not everyone will benefit from the change.
About 12,000 residents actually had their values adjusted downward in 2017, Robinson said. With the return to 2016 values, those homeowners will get adjusted assessments that are actually higher than the first ones they received.
One of those residents is Sean Leddy, who lives in Milton. After the house he bought in 2001 for $450,000 was valued at $704,600 for two years in a row, he was thrilled to see its value drop 2 percent, to $689,700.
Then he learned the assessment freeze would bring it back up again.
“I was like, great, I was finally getting a little relief here,” Leddy said. “Yeah, that’s great for everybody else, but I already took my hit.”
Robinson said the county is aware that there are people like Leddy who may have a case for lower values. He encouraged them to appeal their assessments when they get their new values, and said the county intends to treat them all together, as a block.
“They will be treated fairly,” Robinson said. “We’re going to do the right thing.”