Mayor proposes sunsetting property tax freeze - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Mayor proposes sunsetting property tax freeze

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By Natalie Fultz - Since the 80's, Columbus residents have been under a residential property tax freeze---basically a homeowner who has filed for a homestead exemption pays the same amount each year in property taxes based on what the market value of the home was when it was purchased.

"If the market falls as it has recently and your house is now only worth $230,000 and you can prove that and we agree, we still tax you on $250,000," Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says.

Mayor Tomlinson says this is an antiquated system one that significantly impacts the elderly, military families and new buyers.

"You could buy a house exactly like mine..right next door to mine...exact same square footage...built by the same builder...and be paying thousands more than I do," Tomlinson says.

So, she's proposing sunsetting the tax freeze...not lifting it...actually if you have the freeze you keep it. It just means something different for new buyers.

"All new property transfers vest in a new system with a ten percent property tax cut and that new system is a fair market value system which is what most jurisdictions in this state and across the country have," Tomlinson says.

The new system doesn't mean your property tax goes up every year. Instead, you're reevaluated every three to four. That's when they could be going up or down.

But this still raises concerns for some Columbus residents.

"If the tax appraiser comes and appraises my house and says its worth more - that's a figure they've come up with using their guidelines, Their is nothing wrong with that, but it's not accurate until I sell it," Alton Russell, homeowner says.

Whether you're happy with the old system or ready for the new, Mayor Tomlinson says we likely won't be voting on sunsetting the tax freeze until 2016.

Residents have voted twice on changing the current tax freeze system since it originated in the 80's, but both times it was shot down.


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