Powdersville Post: “Whatever way you slice it”, Bryant said “it’s a tax hike”

Bryant: taxpayers should receive assessment notices sooner

By Nathan DiBagno
Published:

Thursday, August 14, 2008 9:43 AM CDT
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news@powdersvillepost.com

ANDERSON COUNTY – Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, said taxpayers need to be better informed about the reassessed value of their homes and how that will affect their taxes.

That’s why he and other legislators have begun working on legislature that would require counties to send reassessment notices to homeowners at least 60 days before the end of the county’s fiscal year, he said.

This would give taxpayers more time to know whether their property values and taxes are increasing, he said.

“It’s something that lots of my constituents have called me about,” he said. “They feel like they’ve been left in the dark.”

It would also make local governments more transparent, he said.

Currently, South Carolina law requires counties to appraise property every five years and send notices to the owners if it’s worth more than $1,000, but there’s no specific time frame the notices needs to be provided.

Bryant said taxpayers often don’t receive their reassessment notices until about the same time they receive their tax notices near the end of the year, which gives them just a few months to pay their taxes.

The lack of a millage increase alone doesn’t mean there can’t still be a tax hike, Bryant said.

This year, for example, Anderson County’s millage has not increased since last year, but the value of a mill is likely to increase considerably, since this is a reassessment year.

Anderson County’s budget has increased from about $125 million to $150 million, but at the same time, the millage rate has actually decreased from 79.9 to 75.4.

The explanation for this, according to the county’s finance staff, is that the value of a mill has increased from about $511,000 to $565,000.

Whatever way you slice it, Bryant said it’s a tax hike.

“If you’re paying more this year than last year, it’s a tax increase,” he said.

Anderson County Assessor Mike Freeman said that property owners are allowed to appeal the notice within 90 days, but they’re only allowed one appeal per year, according to state law.

During 2003 – Anderson County’s last reassessment year – the reassessment notices were issued in May, Freeman said.

This year, they will be issued later in the year, as county employees have had to deal with a transitioning software system and recent changes in property tax law that were issued in 2006, according to Freeman.

Bryant plans to pre-file the legislation in December before the 2009 legislative session, according to a press release from his office.

Anderson County Assessor Mike Freeman said that property owners are allowed to appeal the notice within 90 days, but they’re only allowed one appeal per year, according to state law.

During 2003 – Anderson County’s last reassessment year – the reassessment notices were issued in May, Freeman said.

This year, they will be issued later in the year, as county employees have had to deal with a transitioning software system and recent changes in property tax law that were issued in 2006, according to Freeman.

Bryant plans to pre-file the legislation in December before the 2009 legislative session, according to a press release from his office.

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