All county ag land revalued
By Jessica Newberry
More than half of Jefferson County’s landowners received assessment notices this June as the tax assessor’s office began a county-wide property revaluation.
Notices were mailed on Monday, June 16, for 7,431 of 13,813 property parcels, approximately 65 percent of the county’s total parcels.
This year’s assessments indicate changes in agricultural land values as well as some residential properties that received improvements since last year. Large and small rural tracts were the first categories to be examined and account for the majority of the assessment notices.
The revaluation, which began in January, will examine every piece of property by 2009.
“Residential and commercial are being done now, but we have to enter all that data and verify it before assessments are sent out,” said Chief Appraiser George Rachels of the Jefferson County Tax Assessor’s Office. “On the residential and city lots, those figures will probably go up.”
Although fair market values on rural land have decreased slightly, overall assessed values have increased. Residential property will not be revalued until 2009, but those figures are also expected to rise.
“At 100 percent of fair market value, overall values went down, but there were winners and losers,” said Rachels. “A majority of landowners will see a 3 percent increase in their assessed values. This is based on the sales ratio study and the use of more land classes. We don’t have many sales, but what’s selling is bringing a good price.”
The 3 percent increase can also be attributed to improvements such as newly cleared land or a change in acreage due to recent surveys.
Changes in the assessment process include the addition of land classes and soil classes in addition to more extensive consideration of tract size and desirability.
In 2007, the rural land valuation schedule was based on five classes organizing land by use and quality. The four additional land classes used in this year’s revaluation apply to land under conservation use. The 2007 schedule does not include them because they are optional under state law, according to Rachels. The average of values in 2007 was $1,775 per acre for classes 1-5. In 2008, the average of classes 1-5 was $1,801, but the total average dropped to $1,391 with the inclusion of classes 6-9.
“The change in rural land assessment is one of the biggest changes we have implemented as a board,” said Dr. Curtis Hunter, chairman of the Board of Assessors. “Besides using more property classes, a scale has been developed to account for desirability of location.”
In an attempt to provide more accurate land values, the board developed an accessibility/desirability schedule and established a breaking point of 20 acres to evaluate large and small tracts of land separately.
“Overall, values might have gone down due to the conservation use because it’s taxed at a lower rate,” said Hunter. “We have increased the number of acres in the conservation program which is an agreement that landowners will hold onto the land and use it for agricultural pursuits in exchange for a lower tax rate.”
Of the 321,000 acres of land in Jefferson County, 204,708 are in conservation, said Rachels.
“We made our first conservation covenant in 1999, and we have 670 covenants expiring this year,” he said. “Back then we had to count the acreage by hand, but we’ll be able to do a much better job of updating the information with computers this time.”
Conservation use or preferential agricultural assessment exemption require entering a 10-year covenant with the county in which the landowner agrees to participate in agricultural or forestry production. These programs can offer the landowner savings as much as 50 percent of the fair market value, according to the Jefferson County Tax Assessor’s Office website. For more information, visit www.qpublic.net/ga/jefferson/.
As the revaluation continues, the assessor’s office will examine residential, commercial and industrial property. Rachels hopes to have the process completed by the end of March 2009.
Voters will cast ballots Tuesday
By Faye Ellison
On Tuesday, July 15, citizens of Jefferson and Glascock counties will cast their votes in local and state races.
In Jefferson County the July 15 election will decide who wins with all of the candidates qualifying on the Democratic ticket and none qualifying as Republican.
Anyone wishing to cast their ballot may do so from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following precincts: Stapleton Crossroads (76), Matthews (77), Wrens (81), Louisville (82), Wadley (83), Bartow (85), and Stapleton (1460) and Avera (1593).
Incumbent Tommy New qualified for District 4 Commissioner, along with L.W. Sherrod Jr. Johnny Davis, the incumbent, was the only candidate to qualify for District 2 Commissioner. Incumbent Commission Chairman William Rabun qualified for his seat again as well as former commissioner Gardner Hobbs.
For Coroner, incumbent Edward James qualified and former coroner Johnny Nelson.
Incumbent Quillian L. Bryant was the only candidate to qualify for Probate Judge, as well as incumbent Jenny Weeks Gordy for Tax Commissioner, incumbent Mickey Jones for Clerk of Court and incumbent Mickey Moses for Solicitor.
Incumbent Gary Hutchins qualified for Sheriff, while Wrens Police Chief David Hannah also qualified.
In Glascock County, many citizens qualified for both political parties challenging the incumbents. Glascock County voters may cast their ballot at the Gibson precinct, the Mill, Edgehill and Mitchell from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Incumbent Magistrate Judge Misty May qualified for the Probate/Magistrate Judge seat as Republican, while incumbent Probate Judge Denise Dallas qualified for the seat, too.
In the race for Glascock County Sheriff, four candidates including incumbent Dean Couch have qualified. Former sheriff Bryan Bopp and Couch both qualified as Democrats, while former deputies J.J. Cooper and Steven Mathis qualified as Republicans.
For the Glascock County Commission Gibson District seat, incumbent Jay Dixon Jr. qualified as a Democrat and Mike Neal qualified as a Republican. In the Mitchell-Edgehill District Commission seat, J. Tyler Fowler, Trey Franks and incumbent Anthony Griswell all qualified on the Democratic ticket. In the Mill District for Commissioner, incumbent Johnny Crutchfield and Wayne Williford both qualified as Democrats.
In the Glascock County Treasurer race, incumbent Audrey Chalker qualified as a Democrat, as well as Judy Deal.
Seats that will be held on to for the next four years by Democratic incumbents include Sharon Lyons as Tax Commissioner, Carla Stevens as Clerk of Superior Court, Connie Kitchens Jackson as Coroner and Donald Kent and Democratic Committee member.
Lions help celebrate July 4th...
The Louisville Lions Club held its 18th Annual Fourth of July Celebration at the Louisville Recreation Park Friday evening. In addition to the fireworks show, they also provided music by The Ogeechee River Band and Velocity (pictured above). WPEH provided patriotic music during the fireworks display.
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