Dozens of property owners appear for a 9 a.m. property value hearing then must wait in line for hours.
ALBANY — Property owners poured into their Board of Equalization hearing Wednesday that was a lot like a 9 a.m. court date.
By 3 p.m., when the last of 191 scheduled hearings was winding down, several had left for doctor’s appointments or work before their chance for a hearing.
“I’ve been up here since 9 o’clock, that’s what my letter said, nine,” said Ouida Everson, at 12:30 p.m.
“I’m number 31 on the list. There’s about four still ahead of me,” said Everson. “Somebody did some poor planning.”
“They want us to get mad and leave,” said another property owner, Vince Herrin.
Herrin, Everson and the owners of 189 other Albany properties received the 9 a.m. invitation to appeal the Dougherty Board of Assessors’ earlier rulings on their property values.
In a countywide reassessment last spring, the value of her home had nearly doubled, from $44,000 to more than $80,000, Ouida said.
Dougherty officials have estimated nearly 4,000 spring revaluations are up for appeal in a process that may go on for months. An appeal to the Board of Equalizations is the second step owners may take if the tax Board of Assessors refuses to adjust a property’s value to their liking.
Wednesday’s batch was merely one set from a single meeting of the Board of Assessors, said Equalization secretary Teresa Holmes.
The Board of Assessors meets to review even more revaluation appeals today at 9 a.m.
Two additional appointed three-member boards of equalization have sped up the process, starting with a Sept. 5 meeting, after completing mandatory training, Holmes said.
Since July 25, the boards of equalization have met seven times to hear appeals, she said.
Dougherty Tax Director Denver Hooten did not return a 1 p.m. call requesting comment.
The weekly meetings, scheduled through September and October, didn’t offer property owners much hope Wednesday.
“They’re rubber-stamping them 99 percent of the time,” said John Stewart, who was protesting the reassessment of an East Albany duplex would increase his property taxes by 350 percent, a hike he said couldn’t be justified.
“We’re being taxed, but we’re not being provided the services,” he said. “There’s government waste all over this town.”
The next step is filing an action in superior court.
The appeals are causing Dougherty to lag in filing its property tax digest with the state, which must approve it before the county can set its property tax rate.
At around 40 mills, Dougherty taxes are among the state’s highest.
By ">Susan McCord, The Albany Herald