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Hall tax digest drops 6 percent
County will collect $40.3M in property taxes this year
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This year's county tax digest shows that property values have fallen in Hall County.

The 2011 digest shows a 6 percent decrease from last year in the value of all taxable property in the county.

The tax digest is the total value of all taxable property in Hall County. For the county this year, that value is $6,449,817,749.

County Administrator Randy Knighton said the decrease is indicative of the economy in Georgia and the nation as a whole.

"I think that's probably consistent throughout the state among many local governments," he said. "I think it's just a direct reflection of economic and market factors."

Hall County was the first in the state to have its tax digest approved for 2011. The county will collect $40,311,361 in property taxes this year.

County Chairman Tom Oliver praised tax officials in Hall County for being the first in the state to prepare a tax digest.

"I think it just shows you that the tax assessment board is doing a good job," he said.

The tax digest is organized by Hall County tax assessors and the tax commissioner's office.

This year, the state required tax assessors to send annual assessment notices to all property owners.

In the past, the state required only that notices be sent out if there was a change in property value.

On a normal year, the county might send out 15,000 notices, Hall County Chief Appraiser Steve Watson said.

This year, tax officials issued a notice for each of the 75,315 parcels in Hall County.

This state-mandated change resulted in more appeals from property owners questioning the value of their property. Watson is currently sifting through 6,700 appeals from property owners in the county.

Even though sending the notices required extra paperwork and more time, the county finished the digest at record speeds, Watson said in a news release.

"In spite of new legal requirements and county leadership changes, the Hall County Tax Assessors and Tax Commissioner's Office staff worked efficiently and submitted the digest numbers in not just a timely fashion, but first in the state," he said.

County tax officials found this year 30 percent of the county's property had decreased in value, he said.

It will take 60 to 90 days to work through all the county's appeals. In the fall, Watson plans to begin preparing for 2012 property values.

His goal is "to try our dead-level best to re-evaluate as much as possible in the county," he said. Their goal is to re-evaluate property values for 80 percent of the county, to provide a more comprehensive tax digest next year.

Watson said the tax digest wouldn't have been completed so quickly this year without the help of Hall County's finance department, including former Finance Director Lisa Johnsa.

"They're a real important piece of this puzzle," he said.

The county's property tax bills can be delivered Aug. 1 as scheduled, Watson said.


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