STICKER SHOCK: Some homeowners not happy with latest property assessment

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Some Fulton County homeowners are getting sticker shock after opening their latest property assessments.

County officials told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik that the average assessment went up about 13 percent over this time last year. But Petchenik heard from some homeowners who saw as much as a 77 percent spike.

Officials told Petchenik it’s the first time in about a decade the county has reassessed the entire digest.

“I had to look at it two or three times before I believed it,” said Stanley Cristol, who retired from his job just two days ago and lives in Roswell. “My assessment went up 39.1 percent from last year to this year, and the tax itself went up about 30 percent.”

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Cristol told Petchenik he hasn’t made any improvements inside or outside his home in 16 years.

“My taxes have gone up every year since I’ve been here, so when they say they haven’t made any changes over a long period of time and now they’re making up for it, that doesn’t agree with my recollection,” Cristol said.

Fulton County Board of Commissioner’s vice chairman Bob Ellis told Petchenik that property values have increased across certain parts of the county, but he said the bigger issue at play is the assessor’s office wasn’t keeping up with the increases over the last several years.

“We’re hitting this year and reaching a point where they’re playing catch-up and we’re seeing big sort of sticker shocks,” he said. “Some of these values may be correct. But others may be wrong.”

Ellis said Fulton County faced the prospect of fines from the state if it didn’t get its property assessments in line.

“We asked the state Department of Revenue to come and do a review or our tax assessor operation,” said Ellis. “Let’s get it corrected so we’re not going through these yo-yo exercises where we’re seeing after four to five years just big jump in value.”

Ellis said homeowners who want to appeal their assessments can do so until July 10.

He said homeowners should also speak to their elected officials ahead of this summer when the county commission, school board and various cities set their millage, or tax rates.

Cristol told Petchenik he likely won’t appeal his assessment because he doesn’t feel he’ll get anywhere.

“When you’ve got taxes going up this much, whether it’s over a 10-year period or 1-year period, at some point, it’s just too much,” he said.

Sen. John Albers released the following statement regarding the Fulton County tax assessments:

“As one of the 320,000 residences who received a tax assessment this week, I was shocked and dismayed by the 22 percent jump in my property value. This new increase is a whopping $90,000 higher than any home that has ever sold in my neighborhood history. Shortly after the assessments went out, the phone calls, emails, social media posts and texting started.  I am not the only one to receive countless complaints in less than one day.  I am witnessing a consistent theme of massive increases across the board with little or no rationale.  It is clear that the Fulton County taxation process is broken.

Over the past few years, we have seen an improvement with certain services and specifically management of Fulton County.  However, similar to the never ending voting problems, this is significant and needs immediate attention and correction.  I have addressed this concern and requested an immediate investigation by the Fulton County Commission. I will update you as more information becomes available.”

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