Monday, June 7, 2010

Geogia Senate Bill 346, signed by the governor on 6/4/10, may bring sanity back to ad valorem taxation.

Here is the section which should be most welcome news to Camden County taxpayers:



Said title is further amended in Code Section 48-5-2, relating to definitions, by adding new paragraphs to read as follows:"(.1) 'Arm's length, bona fide sale' means a transaction which has occured in good faith without fraud or deceit carried out by unrelated or unaffiliated parties, as by a willing buyer and a willing seller, each acting in his or her own self-interest, including but not limited to a distress sale, short sale, bank sale, or sale at public auction."

SECTION 5-2.Said title is further amended in Code Section 48-5-2, relating to definitions regarding ad valorem taxation of property, by revising the introductory language of paragraph (3) preceding subparagraph (A) as follows:"(3) 'Fair market value of 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. The income approach, if data is available, shall be considered in determining the fair market value of income-producing property. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, the transaction amount of the most recent arm's length, bona fide sale in any year shall be the maximum allowable fair market value for the next taxable year. With respect to the valuation of equipment, machinery, and fixtures when no ready market exists for the sale of the equipment, machinery, and fixtures, fair market value may be determined by resorting to any reasonable, relevant, and useful information available, 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 tax assessor shall have access to any public records of the taxpayer for the purpose of discovering such information."

SECTION 5-3.Said Code section is further amended in paragraph (3) by revising subparagraph (B) as follows:"(B) The tax assessor shall consider apply the following criteria in determining the fair market value of real property:(i) Existing zoning of property;(ii) Existing use of property, including any restrictions or limitations on the use of property resulting from state or federal law or rules or regulations adopted pursuant to the authority of state or federal law;(iii) Existing covenants or restrictions in deed dedicating the property to a particular use;(iv) Foreclosure sales, bank Bank sales, other financial institution owned sales, or distressed sales, or any combination thereof, of comparable real property;(v) Decreased value of the property based on limitations and restrictions resulting from the property being in a conservation easement; and(vi) Any other existing factors provided by law or by rule and regulation of the commissioner deemed pertinent in arriving at fair market value."

Had "B (iv)" been in existence this past year, there is no doubt some increases hereabouts would not have been so shockingly large. Note that last year's "shall consider" has been replaced with the imperative "shall apply."

Here is the link to the entire bill.

If elected, during the deliberations on the first budget I will vote on - FY2012 - I will advocate for funding for a reappraisal of ALL St. Marys properties that fiscal year, followed by Kingsland the next year, and Woodbine and the remainder of the county the third year, using the new rules as to what SHALL be included in the comparables when making an appraisal. Moreover, I will advocate for sufficient funding so that we may have enough highly qualified, in-house appraisers to NEVER, EVER, farm the work out again!

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