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Property tax bills on the way

By Justin Boron

The average sales price for residential property in Clayton increased by $2,000 in 2004, pushing the value of property up as tax bills are set to come out Sept. 15.

The rise in value resulted from a 2003 property evaluation in which 32,000 notices were sent out to property owners, Chief Appraiser Rodney McDaniel said.

The jump in sales price of residential property illustrates the climbing values in property as open land for development continued to become more scarce, he said.

"Land values are going to soar in the coming years," McDaniel said. "Its not like we're growing land here."

The increase will be reflected on many homeowners tax bills, said Patricia Hussey, the Clayton County tax commissioner.

Property owners who do not meet the Nov. 15 deadline can face 12 percent annual interest on the bill. After 90 days, a delinquent property owner faces a 10 percent penalty, Hussey said.

Most of the value increase for residential property came from new construction, McDaniel said, while the majority of existing, residential property increased by only 6 percent or less.

Likewise, new business construction pushed the majority of commercial property to increase by more than 11 percent.

The addition of 208 new commercial properties largely contributed to the increase, McDaniel said.

While land value contributed to most of the property tax revenue, other real and personal property added to the county's revenue.

A total of 286 boats and six airplanes generated the county $54,433.92, which Hussey said, had declined because a new tax law gave exemption personal property below $7,500.

There were about 1,200 disputed property assessments, many of which were related to exemption status, McDaniel said.

The tax assessor's office has already settled 350 of them and doesn't anticipate the appeals will absorb much of the office's resources, he said.

"In the past, we have had as many as 5,000 appeals," he said. "This number is actually very small."