Values down $48M from previous year
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As members of the school board and county and city elected officials set millage rates to fund their upcoming budgets, they will be working with nearly $50 million less in taxable property this year than the previous year.
Last week Pickens County Tax Commissioner Sharon Troglin released the 2013 consolidation sheets for the tax digest, which shows a drop in the county’s appraised property values of $48,407,573, or 1.3 percent from the previous year. The digest information is gathered from the tax assessor’s office and lists groups of property types, acreage, and their taxable values.
Residential properties make up the vast majority of the digest with a combined value of $2.2 billion for 2013, down by $28.6 million, or 1.28 percent, over 2012.
Chief Tax Appraiser Roy Dobbs said one reason for the drop in residential values is the number of vacant residential tracks owned by banks whose values have been adjusted due to lack of activity. When the big subdivisions are platted but then don’t sell, adjustments are made on the value after some time.
Residential properties, Dobbs said, are the driving force behind the tax digest.
“It takes people and rooftops to generate the majority of value (in the digest),” he said.
Changes in properties and their classifications - from agriculture to conservation for example - was another reason cited for the overall value changes.
“I don’t think one answer would fit any particular category,” Dobbs said. “Just general changes from year to year. If you have a change from agriculture to the conservation strata then your exemptions go up. And the more exemptions go in there, the more downward trend level of assessment is going to follow.”
Commercial values also dropped by more than $21 million for tax year 2013, from $587 million to $565 million, a decrease of 1.52 percent.
“With commercial that’s sometimes where we get our growth from year to year,” Dobbs said. “Our biggest jump in commercial was probably in 2008 when we had some of our big ticket items come on the scene – WalMart and QuikTrip, RaceTrac and Dollar General -- just different commercial things. There are more stop signs and red lights all the time and it’s usually for commercial development.”
A notable decrease is the number count for heavy equipment. In 2013 the heavy equipment count dropped to just one piece, according to Tax Commissioner Sharon Troglin, down from five last year.
“The only thing I can maybe give for an explanation is that there’s simply not a lot of building going on right now,” she said. “We only had the one piece of heavy equipment. Maybe because of the economy and things aren’t being built. In other counties you see some building but just not here.”
Industrial property values increased by $3.6 million from $108,059,145 to $111 million.
Dobbs said overall there is a lot of activity going on throughout the county.
“We seem to have more people being able to sell in other areas and come here,” he said. “There’s lots of interest from people researching properties here to buy – people doing their due diligence. From what we’ve seen in the last few years there’s more interest. We are having more transactions. I see that as a positive. As you can tell, when you used to go out you’d know everybody in a restaurant and you don’t anymore. They’re coming from somewhere and I don’t think they’re commuting every day.”