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Property taxes: Officials unsure how assessment will shift tax burden

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Reassessment notices for property in Georgetown County started arriving in mailboxes this week, but county officials said they still don’t know how values have shifted.

County Auditor Linda Mock was scheduled to meet Wednesday with a representatives from the state Department of Revenue and “we should know more about the calculations and percentages then,” County Administrator Sel Hemingway said Tuesday.

“I don’t know if we’ll have all the details, but I hope we’ll know more than we do now.”

The county already had figures for commercial and residential properties appraised by its staff, but the Department of Revenue develops assessed values for industrial property and those numbers have to be considered as well.

“We’ve gotten some estimates from them, but we’re still trying to nail all that together,” Hemingway said.

The county will also have to make an estimate on vehicle taxes by region, using different calculations for each municipality and fire district.

County residents anxious to see how the values have changed on their homes and businesses since the last reassessment five years ago have been waiting since July. That’s when notices were originally supposed to go out.

They were delayed when the county discovered Horry County was using the same printer for its notices and decided it would be more efficient to coordinate their efforts, Hemingway said.

Notices were then scheduled to go out by Aug. 15, but there were problems when the files were sent to the printer and they had to convert them for their computer system.

After that was cleared up, the county had to go over the numbers and “make sure nothing was dropped in the process” before notices were sent to property owners, Hemingway said.

The printer finally mailed notices late Monday afternoon.

Assessment figures are used in calculating property taxes and Waccamaw Neck Property owners, who saw significant increases in property values during the last reassessment, are hoping to see their tax bills decrease in November as a result of this reassessment.

But the change in property tax values as a result of reassessment often aren’t as great as people expect, because county millage rates are adjusted to compensate for the change, according to the S.C. Department of Revenue’s website.

Now that reassessment notices are mailed, property owners have 30 days to file appeals with the assessor’s office. The assessor’s office then has 30 days to arrange an appointment with the taxpayer to go over the appeal and attempt to resolve it. If no agreement is reached, the case moves to the assessment appeals board.

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