Bryan County Chief Appraiser Liz Todd said property owners here should see roughly a $430 break on their 2023 property taxes, thanks to the state’s property tax relief grant championed by Gov. Brian Kemp.
But don’t expect to see that figure in your assessment when they’re mailed out later this summer.
“The credit will show on their bills, it just won’t be reflected on the assessment notice estimate,” Todd said, noting the state won’t have its numbers ready until tax bills are mailed out in June.
That rebate, for homesteaded properties only, likely will help counter somewhat the rise in property values brought about by a number of issues, from inflation to new construction. Todd compared the recent market to numbers from just before the Great Recession.
“We’re back to the 2004, 2005, 2006 market before the crash,” Todd said.
Now in her 10th year as the county’s chief appraiser, she provided data which shows that in 2013, her first year here, there were 843 property transfers and the county had 16,968 parcels, and the average home value was $150,000 In 2022 there were 1,879 transfers and 21,089 parcels in Bryan County, and the average home value is $275,000.
But unlike in years past, where much of the residential growth was concentrated in South Bryan and Richmond Hill, North Bryan is seeing more residential development as Hyundai’s Metaplant America sets up shop and other industries continue to move to North Bryan.
Todd recounted recently seeing a mobile home for rent in Pembroke for $1,400 a month, and said rents are extremely high throughout the county.
“It’s not just the sales that are crazy, everything is so inflated right now,” she said, adding the inflated prices include those for agricultural, commercial and industrial property. “It’s a unique time we’re going through. You can just about put any price on a property and someone will buy it.”
For Todd’s office, the rules remain the same regardless of the market.
Her assessors do a mass appraisal based on sales and then undergo a yearly audit by the state Department of Revenue to insure local assessments are within two percentage points either way of the state’s assessment.
That means discounting sales on either extreme of the market, say a home that suddenly goes for twice its appraised value, while doing the same with property that may go for lower than the market due to a homeowner’s need to sell in a hurry.
“It’s a unique market,” she said, noting that Bryan isn’t the only county in the area experiencing rapid growth and rising property values while adding that assessors don’t set budgets or millage rates. Those are set by local governments such as city councils, county commissions and school boards.
Property is taxed on 40 percent of its appraised value, minus homestead exemptions. Bryan County, for example, has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in Georgia for senior citizens. Those 65 and over can exempt $50,000 off school, county and city property taxes if they qualify.
Those exemptions are approved by Bryan County Tax Commissioner Carrol Ann Coleman.
When a tax digest, which is the assessed total of all property in a county, is growing as Bryan County’s has been, then the value of a mill increases, and as a result governments are required to either adopt a rollback millage rate or advertise a tax increase.
Among local governments only the Bryan County Commission has adopted a rollback rate in recent years. Richmond Hill, Pembroke and the Bryan County Board of Education have all maintained the same millage rate.
In the meantime, Todd said her office averages roughly 350-400 appeals of assessments a year. Those go to a Board of Equalization whose members all have to undergo state mandated training.
She said she encourages property owners who don’t agree with an assessment to call her office or file an appeal.
“Our letterhead says ‘We appraise property but we value people,’” Todd said. “It’s the truth. We work for the property owners of Bryan County.”