About 30 of those residents who live in the Soleil at Laurel Canyon neighborhood came out Tuesday night hoping to have those questions explained by staff of the Cherokee County Tax Assessor’s Office.
At least one resident saw her property assessment go up more than $100,000 and others experienced a significant jump in values.
Deputy Chief Appraiser and Senior Residential Appraiser Steve Swindell spent a little more than an hour discussing the property tax assessment process as well as steps on how residents could appeal their assessments.
The meeting took place at the Canyon Café at the Fairways of Canton clubhouse.
Today is the deadline for residents to appeal their assessments.
Appeals must be postmarked by today and either mailed to the assessor’s office at 2782 Marietta Highway Suite 200 in Canton or faxed to (678) 493-6125.
Carole George said her home’s value jumped from $298,000 to $442,000 between 2011 and 2012.
While she said she understood the tax assessor’s office had to make the adjustments, she was still taken aback by the jump.
She noted her property was only assessed at 85 percent in 2011 and the additional 15 percent added this year contributed to the bump.
“It should have been high, but not that high,” she added.
Swindell said he and his office are always happy to sit down with neighborhoods and other organizations to go over the process of assessments and appeals.
He noted he felt the meeting with Soleil residents was productive.
“I felt like we came away having informed them of the process and where we were coming from,” he said, adding he received a warm response after.
Swindell said his office has seen a few appeals from residents in the neighborhood.
Wayne Rogers, a resident who organized the meeting, said he helped organize the meeting so residents were aware of the process and their options.
“We wanted to make more residents aware of the assessment and appeal procedure,” he said, adding he thought Tuesday’s meeting went well.
Rogers, who noted in an email that Soleil was the only neighborhood in Laurel Canyon that saw its assessments increase, said his own assessment jumped 10.5 percent.
He also noticed his land value jumped to $60,000.
Rogers, who said his home sits on .22 acres, noted that calculation comes out to be close to $250,000 per acre, “which does not seem to be the going price.”
The tax assessor’s office last month said that out of roughly 96,000 real property tax assessments, about 82,000 went down in value while 5,900 saw an increase in their assessments.
There were about 8,600 that saw no change in their assessments.
Swindell said Soleil residents saw generally between an 8 and 10 percent increase their assessments for 2012.
He noted that when the original developer Levitt & Sons went into bankruptcy, a court handling the case, in an attempt to protect existing residents or residents that signed contracts but hadn’t had their homes built, stipulated the company must sell the homes at the agreed upon price to the prospective buyers.
Swindell also said the original builders were required to complete the homes they were already constructing or had received payments for, but the market for the community remained “uncertain.”
The tax assessor’s office at that time made “economic adjustments” that brought the value of the homes down “considerably lower than what they were selling for” since the higher values didn’t represent a real fair market value, Swindell said.
Soon after, the Georgia General Assembly placed a moratorium that froze assessments, which lasted through 2011.
Swindell noted that while they moratorium was in place, sales prices of the homes weren’t being affected as John Wieland Homes, the developer who took over the project, “continued to build and sell and they were selling at pretty good rates.”
After the moratorium expired, Swindell said the office adjusted the calculations to bring the neighborhood in line with surrounding areas.
Swindell added some residents who bought property in 2011, but their homes weren’t complete until 2012, could have also experienced a considerable boost.
And with the market adjustments, Swindell said “that number is going to be considerably more.”
“What you’ll find is the values ended up to being close to what they paid for,” he said.