Frequently Asked Tax Questions

Who are the members of the Board of Assessors?
When does the Board of Assessors meet?
What does the Board of Assessors do?
What are Ad Valorem Taxes/Property Taxes?

What is Fair Market Value?
How often are Property Appraisals done?
What appraisal methods are used?
Why did the value of my property change?
How can I appeal my property assessment?
What happens if my appeal is unresolved?
How is assessed value determined?
How do I calculate my tax rate?
How are taxes collected?
What are my rights and responsibilities?

Board of Assessors

Alan Curtis, Chairman
Bill Coody, Member

Beth Harding, Member

Lisa Hodges, Chief Appraiser

The Bleckley County Board of Assessors meet in the Tax Assessor Office the 1st Tuesday of every month at 5:00 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and citizens are encouraged to attend.

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Board of Assessors' Responsibility

The Cochran/Bleckley County Board of Assessors is the governmental entity responsible for the valuation of all the real and personal property in the city and county. The Assessors' Staff estimate fair market value to assure that the tax burden is distributed equitably and uniformly. Their primary goal is to ensure fair and objective appraisals.

The Board is a three-member panel which is appointed by the County Commissioners for a staggered three-year term. In Cochran/Bleckley County, the members work part-time to fulfill their obligations and set policy. They hire a professional staff to appraise all property.

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Ad Valorem Taxes/Property Taxes

The "Ad Valorem" Tax or the Property Tax is based on value. The Property Tax is part of a well balanced revenue system that is designed to spread the tax burden to all citizens who benefit from the Government. Property taxes, along with collections of sales tax, licenses and permit fees, fines and forfeitures and charges for services, bring in the majority of the funds to operate the Cochran/Bleckley County Governments and School Systems.

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Fair Market Value

The Fair Market Value of Real Property means the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay for the property and a willing seller would accept for the property at an arm's length, bona fide sale. Said property must be exposed for sale in the open market allowing a reasonable time to find a purchaser who buys with knowledge of all uses to which it is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.

The Fair Market Value of Personal Property, Georgia Law states, "With respect to the valuation of equipment, machinery, fixtures and inventories, Fair Market Value may be determined by resorting to any reasonable, relevant and useful information including, but not limited to, the original cost of the property, any depreciation or obsolescence, and any increase in value by reason of inflation".

Each Assessor shall have access to any public records of the taxpayer for the purpose of discovering such information. The Law further states, "In determining Fair Market Value of a going business where its continued operation is reasonably anticipated, the Assessors may value the equipment, machinery, fixtures and inventories which are the property of the business as a whole where appropriate to reflect the accurate Fair Market Value".

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Property Appraisals

The Board of Assessors does not create property values. The assessors and appraisers only monitor the markets and interpret what buyers and seller have established as the Market Value. The appraised value is simply an estimate of what the property is worth.

Finding the Market Value of your property involves discovering the price a typical buyer would pay for the property in its present conditions. This is no simple task for the appraisal staff because they have to estimate the value of each piece of property, no matter how big or small, which is located in Bleckley County. But the appraiser's job doesn't stop here. Each year it has to be done again because Market Value changes from one year to the next.

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Appraisal Methods

The appraisal staff keeps track of property ownership by receiving copies of all deeds filed in Bleckley County. As property sells, they are able to keep current ownership information, tract sizes, and sale prices of property sold.

The appraisers must first know what the property to be appraised consists of in order to find the Fair Market Value. The appraisal staff has, in the past, visited, reviewed and updated every parcel of property in Bleckley County and has gathered data concerning land features, size, zoning, and deed restrictions. If the property is improved, all improvements are measured and information is gathered that will assist the appraiser in determining the value of improvements. The appraisal staff maintains a scaled drawing of each structure located in Bleckley County and through the review of building permits and information supplied by taxpayers, conducts field reviews to update construction data as warranted.

Using the above factors, as well as the appraiser's knowledge of the Real Estate Market, the appraiser can estimate the Market Value using three different approaches to value:

  1. the Cost approach
  2. the Sales Comparison approach
  3. the Income approach

The appraiser may use one, two or all three in arriving at the Market Value of a piece of property. The Cost approach uses actual replacement cost of the building, less deprecation, plus the value of land. The Sales Comparison approach involves analyzing sales of similar properties to predict the likely selling price of unsold properties. The Income approach is used for income producing properties. It involves capitalizing the net income to arrive at a probably selling price for the property.

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Value Changes

The value of property changes because of structural or market conditions. When this happens, the Fair Market Value used by the Assessor's Office also changes. The change could be an increase or decrease in value due to the circumstances.

For instance, additions of rooms to your home or improved market factors would certainly increase your appraised value. Removal of structures, or if your property had not been maintained over a period of time and the roof was falling in or declining market factors would decrease your appraised value. The appraiser has not created this value change. People, property owners, create value by their transactions in the market place. The appraiser simply reflects what buyers and sellers in the marketplace tell him/her the property is worth.

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Appeal Process

After you have received a notice of assessment and have given careful consideration to the value placed on your property, you may file an appeal in writing to the Board of Assessors within 45 days from the mailing date of the notice of assessment if you feel it is incorrect. Your appeal should be based on one more of the following:

  1. Taxability: Is the property taxable or does it qualify for exempt status?
  2. Uniformity: Does the property value compare with the value of similar properties?
  3. Value: Is the value of the property too high or too low?

Once your appeal is filed with the Assessor's Office, it is reviewed by the Board of Assessors and the appraisal staff. Based on the facts submitted in your letter and information contained in the Assessors' appraisal file, a decision is made whether to raise, lower or not change the property's Fair Market Value. If no change is made, the appeal is automatically certified to the next appeal level, the Board of Equalization, for a hearing. If the value is changed, you will be notified of the new value and you are given 21 days to appeal the changed value in writing to the Board of Equalization if you feel the new value is incorrect. If you agree with the new value, no further action on your part is needed. (Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the Board of Equalization at the option of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed.)

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Board of Equalization

The Board of Equalization is a three member panel appointed by the Bleckley County Grand Jury to serve three-year terms. The Board's specific function is to hear unresolved appeals from taxpayers. Both the taxpayer and the Assessors' Office present evidence to the Board of Equalization in much the same manner as a courtroom jury. After hearing the evidence, the Board renders a decision on the value of property. If either party disagrees with the decision of the Board of Equalization, they may proceed to the next appeal level which is the Superior Court.

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Value and Taxes

In Georgia, property is assessed at 40% of its appraised Fair Market Value. The ratio was established by the General Assembly and once multiplied with your Fair Market Value, determines your assessed value. The assessed value is multiplied with the tax rate to determine the amount of taxes due.

Though the value of your property affects the amount of taxes you pay on it, the actual amount of taxes you pay is determined by the budgets needs of the city and county. In other words, the tax is based on the millage rate, which is determined by dividing the governments' and schools' budget needs by the assessed value of all the taxable property in the jurisdiction.

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Tax Rate

The Assessors' Office has no control over the tax rate or amount of your taxes. The primary responsibility of the Assessors' Office is to appraise your property at its Fair Market Value so that you pay no more than your fair share of taxes.

The amount of taxes you pay is determined by the tax rate or millage rate as it is commonly called. The tax rate is determined by all of the taxing agencies - State of Georgia, Bleckley County Board of Commissioners, Bleckley County Board of Education, Cochran City Commissioners and Cochran City Board of Education - and is determined by the budget needs to provide all the services citizens of Cochran/Bleckley County want and require.

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Setting Tax Rate/Tax Calculation

The tax rate is established after the budget process by each taxing agency. As an aid to view the process, the following example illustrates how the amount of tax is determined through the budgeting process and how this relates to the millage rate and then to the individual tax bill:

Total Budget Needs as Determined by Each Taxing Authority ___________________$55,000,000

Assessed Value of all Taxable Property__________________________________$1,800,000,000
$55,000,000 divided by $1,800,000,000 = .0306
.0306 = Millage Rate or Tax Rate

The amount of revenue needed to fund the budget is divided by the total assessed value of all property - real and personal, public utilities, motor vehicles and mobile homes - to establish the millage rate or tax rate. The millage rate is calculated in dollars per 1,000. It is then applied to each individual assessed value to determine the amount of taxes.

Fair Market Value of Property___________________________________________$100,000
Georgia Assessment Rate (40%) _______________________________________x        .40

Assessed Value_____________________________________________________$40,000
Millage Rate________________________________________________________x   .0306

Property Taxes_____________________________________________________= $1,224.00

As property is reappraised each year, your tax bill may or may not change. Let's assume that all taxable property increases by 25% and that all taxing authorities have no increase in budget needs. The calculation would be as follows:

Total Budget Needs as Determined by Each Taxing Authority ___________________$55,000,000

Assessed Value of all Taxable Property with a 25% increase___________________$2,250,000,000
($1,800,000,000 x 1.25 )
$55,000,000 divided by $2,250,000,000 = .0244
.0244 = Millage Rate or Tax Rate

Fair Market Value of Property with a 25% increase____________________________$125,000
Georgia Assessment Rate (40%) _______________________________________x        .40

Assessed Value_____________________________________________________$50,000
Millage Rate________________________________________________________x   .0244

Property Taxes_____________________________________________________= $1,220.00

In the above examples, if a property owner has a Homestead Exemption, the exemption amount is deducted from the assessed value before the millage rate is applied.

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Tax Collection

The Bleckley County Tax Commissioner compiles the tax digest from the property values given by the Assessors' Office. The Tax Commissioner then multiplies each property assessment by the millage rate given by the taxing authorities - State of Georgia, Bleckley County Board of Commissioners, Bleckley County Board of Education, Cochran City Commissioners and Cochran City Board of Education - to determine the amount of tax. The Tax Commissioner mails the tax bills to the property owners and collects the taxes accordingly.

NOTE: Tax bills will NOT be mailed to your mortgage company. It is the homeowners responsibility to forward the tax bill to their mortgage company in the manner prescribed by your individual mortgage company.

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Your Rights and Responsibilities

Appraisers rely on the property owner for accurate information. It is impossible for the staff appraisers to visit each property while the owners are at home. It is very important that each property owner review the Assessors' records to make sure the information is correct.

If you do not agree with the value placed on yoru property, by all means go to the office and discuss the matter. The appraisal staff will be glad to answer any questions about the appraisal and explain how to appeal if you cannot come to an agreement.

If you feel your taxes are too high, you should make your opinion known to the proper taxing authority, not the Assessors' Office. The assessors do not set the tax rates which determines the amount of taxes.

When visiting the Assessors' Office or Tax Commissioner's Office, please ask us about your eligibility for special exemptions. The Assessors, the Tax Commissioner and their staff all want to make sure you are receiving all applicable exemptions so you are only paying the proper amount of taxes. Please allow these offices to answer any questions you may have.

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