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Ask the Times: Hall property values determined by a variety of factors
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get it answered. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our staff.

How does the county assess property values? Does someone come out to each house to appraise it? What is the appraisal value based on?

To determine a property’s value, the Hall County Tax Assessors staff reviews sales of properties in that area, according to Chief Appraiser Steve Watson. They look for differences between what property is typically selling for as compared to the county appraisal on the properties that have sold.

The value is based on the land and the buildings, and certain improvements such as outbuildings or pools are included.

If there is a trend showing too much difference between what a property sold for as opposed to what the county appraisal is, the appraisal staff will make valuation adjustments based on the sales.

In many cases, Watson said, the staff review property in the field, but because Hall County has 75,000 parcels and limited staff and time, it is impossible to make an on-site inspection of every property each year.

On-site inspections have been made in recent years, so the staff rely on the best information possible.

“We do make many field inspections throughout the course of the appraisal process, and if we schedule our time and field reviews carefully we should be able to visit all properties at least once every three years,” Watson said. “However, if we have any incorrect information, we’re more than happy to make an on-site field inspection to correct any discrepancies.”

Property owners have 45 days from when they received the appraisal notice to appeal the valuation in writing. That date is June 11 this year.

How much power is generated at Buford Dam and how much is it worth?
Buford Dam generated 169,582 megawatts of power in fiscal year 2011, which runs from October 2010 to September 2011, according to Tim Rainey, operations project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If you assume the average household uses 2,000 watts of energy per day, that would power 235,530 homes for a year. Rainey said the average home uses between 800 and 4,000 watts per day.

The Southeastern Power Administration serves as broker for the power, scheduling power usage and selling it to preferred customers including electric cooperatives, public bodies or investor-owned utilities.

SPA collects money from 10 different power plants within its system, which includes Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, and from that total number, SPA then allocates money back to the individual plants based on a complicated formula involving capitalized assets, investments, debt, overhead, headwater benefits, benefits downstream, etc.

“So dependent on how they want to do things — pay off debt somewhere else, they’re looking at higher interest rates or whatever — they may attribute more funds or more money to one project than another,” Rainey said. “It’s almost independent of power produced at a sole plant because they’re looking at it from a systemwide basis.”

Based on that formula, in fiscal year 2011, the Buford plant was allocated $17,606,785. Rainey said that number is usually $8-9 million.

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