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The Numbers Lie. Do You Think That is Feasible?

Do you know why the city proposals for Lakeside and Briarcliff are so economically feasible?  Because they are all based upon faulty, wrong, completely irregular and untrue property assessments.  

For two years (2011, 2012), the tax assessment office relied upon faulty software that they admitted gave them wrong numbers. They quietly calmed some areas that thought they were assessed far too low, like in Avondale Estates, but they never thought that wrong data for one place might mean wrong data everywhere.  

They left it up to the individual appeals process to correct itself.  Well, most people will fight to change something when it is costing them too much to ignore, but in hard times, if you cannot take the time off of work or afford an attorney, it must be pretty rare for anyone to actually fight in order to ask you to RAISE their value and associated tax payment.  

I even wrote several blogs on this subject and Representative Scott Holcomb did as well.  

Civic Duty:  Appealing Your Property Tax Assessment
Appealing Your Property Tax:  The Cell Tower Factor

Property Tax Assessments - Here We Go Again


So, the next year, you would think the county tax assessor would have worked hard to get things right again, but what did they do instead??  They used the SAME program, and got MORE faulty results.  And, again, some estimates were over the top in terms of too high and there were many appeals to lower them.  

But if you have some too high, yet a total that doesn't scream out "error" to your skilled staff, then the only possibility is that you have others, somewhere that must be far too low.  So, where were the corrections to these faults?  Why didn't we hear about the big changes after the appeals that would make it necessary for the rest of us to get new tax statements, possibly higher, to compensate for the ones that had to be lowered?

Now, in 2013, they say they ditched the bad software and are using something better that works.  That's great, except you are still using the very BAD numbers.  And, to compensate for the errors, the state has now placed limits on how quickly your home can appreciate from year to year, so even if the numbers are bad, there might not be a way to put the "right" ones in or else it could violate the law.

You may hear about feasibility studies, but don't believe what you read.  Garbage in, garbage out.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cheryl Miller December 18, 2013 at 02:28 PM
What do you know? The AJC did an investigation and confirmed the exact same thing we were suggesting... faulty data on property values ... http://www.myajc.com/news/news/many-tax-assessments-and-bills-too-low/ncG5M/ "The inaccurate assessments could haunt county governments. State law requires typical assessments to be within 10 percent of market value, and counties that don’t comply when state regulators perform their official analysis could be subject to financial penalties."
Todd Chester December 19, 2013 at 12:02 AM
This seems to be counterintuitive to your argument. Your blog post indicates that the feasibility studies are using valuations that are too high, thus inflating the revenue streams of the potential cities, however your comment and the link to the article reference property valuations that are too low. Wouldn't this make the cities more viable as the property tax valuations increase to get back in line with the current values? Did you intend to argue with yourself on this topic, or is this another hastily written blog posting where you didn't think through the topic?
Cheryl Miller December 20, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Too high in some areas; too low in others. Faulty data has been used in the feasibility studies. Do you really need to know anything more than that? Why would you want to base anything on faulty data? Or ... how can people ask others to pony up $30K for a study based on faulty data? Or, stake a reputation on it?
Brian December 20, 2013 at 06:58 AM
So, let's use the ineptitude of the county as a reason not to break away and gain more local control. Makes sense. Also, if there is a multi million dollar surplus like Lakeside and Briarcliff then it's a moot point.
Cheryl Miller December 20, 2013 at 07:38 AM
I hope your sound accounting principles get you far in life and, if not, there's always Vegas! How about using some other measure, such as a Realtor's certified database of home sales, or maybe the 2006 numbers used in the Ga. Tech. study of Tucker since we are supposedly returned to our pre-recession values? How about "outsourcing" the study to a reliable accounting firm instead of mandating the use of an in-house public university that derives its very existence from the support of the state and was also one of the only categories excluded from the cap on allowable campaign contributions under ethic reform laws. But, you're going to break away and live on your island and nothing will touch you after you get that zoning control and start closing down businesses. No wonder there isn't a commercial district of Lakeside.
Brian December 20, 2013 at 07:58 AM
Keep ranting Cheryl, I mean SaveDekalb, no wait...Cheryl. I'm not a Lakeside supporter, if you stop to process the comments I've been defending Tucker. I've never indicated anything about closing down businesses. To be clear, I think there are logical arguments to be made on both sides of the City-hood issue, pro and con. I'm undecided, though I like the fact that Tucker2014 has picked up the ball in an attempt to give the community an opportunity to vote on their own future. You should appreciate it too even though you have concerns, because without them being successful you won't have an opportunity to vote. Optimism, you should try it sometime...leads to a fulfilling life!
Cheryl Miller December 20, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Must have mixed you up with Todd. You both popped up at the same time out of nowhere to criticize without solutions. That makes it all the same to me.
Cheryl Miller December 20, 2013 at 06:07 PM
I would at least like to know what I will be expected to vote for. How can anyone support something they have not seen in writing?? Where is the city charter? Who drew the map and why? I don't want third party interpretations. Someone needs to stand up and explain what it is they are asking us to support and why they think it is a good plan. Otherwise, we will fail. Collectively. Better to air the issues not than let them come out after a vote, don't you think??

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