Notice to Property Owners and Occupants
Chief Appraiser Benny Waldrop
In accordance with Georgia Law (OCGA 48-5, Section 264.1), be advised that a member of the Douglas County Appraisal Staff may visit your property to review or update property information. The purpose of this visit may be in response to one or more of the following:
- a return was filed,
- an appeal was filed,
- recent improvements or additions were made to the property,
- a change in zoning,
- a general review/update of parcel information,
- exempt property application,
- conservation use application,
- or decal inspections.
The field appraiser will have a photo identification badge and will be driving an appropriately marked vehicle. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Douglas County Assessors Office at 770.920.7228.
PROPERTY APPRAISAL REVIEWS BEGINNING IN SOUTHERN DOUGLAS COUNTY
Beginning the first week of March, three teams of field appraisers from the Douglas County Appraisal Department will begin conducting door-to-door property reviews in southern Douglas County. These field appraisals are required by Georgia law to be conducted every 3 - 4 years to ensure that property descriptions, construction, and amenities are properly recorded. The areas in southern Douglas County that will be surveyed during the Spring of 2015 include the area west of Bear Creek and south of Dog River.
The teams of field appraisers will wear County logo shirts and jackets, and have County identification. They will be driving a vehicle with a County Seal. They will have business cards listing their name, phone number and e-mail address.
If a resident is at home when the appraisers visit, they will verify the property information the County has on file. They will not enter the residence unless invited in to view changes to the property information. They will conduct an outside inspection.
If a resident is not at home when the appraisers visit, they will conduct an outside inspection and leave a card/door hanger informing the resident that they were there. The appraisers will not go through/over a locked gate. If a resident has a locked gate, the resident is asked to call the Douglas County Appraisal Department at 770.920.7228 to schedule an appointment when the appraisers can meet the property owner on site.
Residents with questions are asked to call 770.920.7228.
Assessment and Appeal Process
Each year, the Board of Assessors assigns a value to real property (structures and land), personal property (boats, airplanes, business equipment, inventory, etc.), and mobile homes in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations established by the State of Georgia and Department of Revenue. These appraised values are “fair market values,” that is, what the property could expect to sell for if it was sold during the year. Each real property owner will receive an assessment notice annually. Personal property owners will receive an assessment notice if his or her value changes or if a return is filed with the Tax Commissioner’s office between January 1 – April 1 and the County’s value does not agree with the property owner’s return value.
Once assessment notices are mailed (sometime between April 15 and July 1), the property owner should review the value listed on the notice. If they disagree with the fair market value, they have 45 days from the date of the notice to file an appeal with the Appraisal Department. Property owners should request a copy of their property record card to review for accuracy (comparable property values and sales are also available in the Appraisal Department). At the time of appeal, the property owner has the option of arbitration, hearing officer, or an appeal directly to Superior Court instead of the normal appeal process (see below).
Normal Appeal Process (also referred to as Board of Equalization or BOE appeal):
- When an appeal is filed, the Board of Assessors will review the property value and notify the property owner in writing (30-day letter) whether or not a change has been made in the value.
- If the value was found to be fair and the Board of Assessors makes no change, the appeal will be automatically forwarded to the Grand Jury-appointed Board of Equalization.
- If the Board of Assessors made a change and the property owner accepts the new value, he does not need to do anything, the appeal will be withdrawn at the end of the 30-day period. However, if the property owner does not agree with the change and wishes to further the appeal, he must notify the Appraisal Department in writing within the 30-day period. The appeal will then be forwarded to the Board of Equalization.
- The Board of Equalization will schedule a hearing date for each appeal and the property owner will be notified by mail of the hearing date/time. It is recommended that the property owner attend the Board of Equalization hearing and be prepared to present information to support the property owner’s opinion of fair market value. Once the Board of Equalization has made a decision, the property owner again has two options. If the property owner agrees with the decision, he does not need to do anything. The appeal will be settled at the Board of Equalization value. However, if the property owner or Board of Assessors does not agree with the decision, either party can appeal this decision to Superior Court within 30 days from the date on which the decision of the County Board of Equalization is mailed (the property owner must notify the Assessors’ office in writing that he wishes to appeal this decision to Superior Court). The property owner is required to pay a filing fee of $207.00 to the Clerk of Superior Court, Douglas County.
Additional Appeal Options
- ARBITRATION*: Directly to arbitration without an appeal to the Superior Court (valuation is the only grounds that may be appealed to arbitration)
- HEARING OFFICER*: For a parcel of non-homestead property with a fair market value in excess of $1 million, to a hearing officer with appeal to Superior Court (value and uniformity only)
- SUPERIOR COURT*: Directly to Superior Court (required consent of Board of Assessors) (any/all grounds)
- * Additional cost/fees may apply
The Georgia Department of Revenue establishes values for motor vehicles each year. The deadline to file an appeal is the same as the deadline listed on the tag bill.
Specialized Assessment Programs
- CONSERVATION USE PROPERTY: A ten-year covenant that can provide some relief from property tax burdens to certain qualified, active agricultural properties. Property which is eligible:
- 2000 Acres or less of a single owner (ownership must qualify)
- Primary purpose must be good faith production of agricultural or timber products (includes subsistence farming); wildlife preservation
- Environmentally sensitive property (must be certified by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources)
- RESIDENTIAL TRANSITIONAL PROPERTY: A ten-year covenant that can provide current use assessment for residential property located in a transitional area. Property which is eligible:
- Property must be owner occupied single family residential located in a transitional area
- Value must have been changed to a level higher than that of residential property in the area as a result of its location in a transitional area
- PREFERENTIAL TAX ASSESSMENT FOR AGRICULTURAL PROPERTY: Ten-year covenant in which the property is assessed at 30% of fair market value rather than 40% for tax purposes. Property which is eligible:
- 2000 acres or less of a single owner (ownership must qualify)
- Property must be tangible real property devoted to bona fide agricultural purposes
- GEORGIA FOREST LAND PROTECTION ACT: Fifteen-year covenant that provides for an ad valorem tax exemption for property primarily used for the good faith subsistence or commercial production of trees, timber, or other wood and wood fiber products. Property which is eligible:
- Parcels consisting of more than 200 acres
- Must meet ownership and other qualifications
- REHABILITATED HISTORIC PROPERTY: Reduced assessment for property that has been or is in the process of substantial rehabilitation. Eligibility requirements include:
- Property must qualify for listing on Georgia Register of Historic Places
- Rehabilitation must meet standards as provided for in GA DNR Regulations
- Property must be certified by GA DNR as being eligible for preferential assessment
- LANDMARK HISTORIC PROPERTY: Reduced assessment for property that has been certified by a local government as landmark historic property. Eligibility requirements include:
- Property must be registered on the National or Georgia register of historic places and be so certified by the GA Department of Natural Resources
Douglas County Board of Assessors
James Weeks, Chairman
Ruthe Perdue, Vice-Chairman
Tom Warren, Member
Jim Stanley, Member
Robert Pope, Member
Appraisal Department Staff Management
Benny Waldrop, Chief Appraiser
Sherri Crocker, Assistant Chief Appraiser
Lynn Weathington, Appraisal Supervisor