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Not the right fix
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Trying to understand the rules and regulations behind Georgia's badly-in-need-of-fixing property tax system can be like trying to learn physics without knowing anything other than basic math. But the bottom line is county assessments are tied to market values - and for years local officials have pointed the finger at the state when doing revaluations, saying it's a state requirement that it be done every few years.

That's not so, the state says, and a story in Monday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Department of Revenue is, under orders from Gov. Sonny Perdue, proposing a new regulation that will spell out when property tax revaluations are, or aren't, due.

All the state requires, the AJC reported, is that counties keep property assessed at 40 percent of fair market value and that they be uniform. Counties in turn say that mandates revaluations every few years.

This is part of the problem with property taxes, which imposes upon the few (homeowners) the burden of paying for services for the many. Fortunately, Bryan County has a relatively low combined millage rate compared to surrounding counties, though once soaring property values still caused substantial tax increases for many in 2007. That's why it also will be interesting to see whether local millage rates remain low if property values drop at the next revaluation.

In the meantime, this exercise on the state's part in attempting to avoid blame is yet another glaring example of something wrong and a reason why the property tax system needs more than just a regulation stating when something is or isn't due and who calls what shot when.

It needs an overhaul.

Bryan County News

July 2, 2008

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