To accommodate those Columbus residents who plan to appeal their higher property tax assessments, the office of Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson on Monday said the city’s Tax Assessor’s Office will extend its operating hours through the appeals deadline of Aug. 14.
The extension starts Tuesday with the new closing time at the office’s 3111 Citizens Way location, inside the Citizen Services Center off Macon Road, extended from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The office opens at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The operating hours extension comes amid the possibility of a major surge in appeals by property owners in Columbus, with new assessments this year for some residents and business owners increasing as much as 1,000 percent. It has left property owners and members of Columbus Council scrambling to determine how values shot up so dramatically in some cases, with the city replacing its three-decade-old assessment system this year with a new one by Plano, Texas-based Tyler Technologies, a public sector software and services firm.
The city on Monday also said those property owners who don’t have their appeals resolved by Oct. 1 will receive a “temporary” bill showing the tax owed on Dec. 1. It said residents will owe at that time either the amount of their 2016 property tax or 85 percent of the amount on their 2017 bill — whichever is less — until their appeal is completed. It also is “subject to certain statutory exceptions for frozen homesteaded property and property which has been modified.”
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The city said the appeals process ensures that property owners are “not burdened” financially by a tax increase until their specific case is resolved.
The current property tax assessment uproar follows last November’s defeat at the ballot an attempt by the city to thaw the longtime residential property tax freeze put in place by voters in 1982. The measure failed 60 percent to 40 percent last Nov. 8.
It was the second attempt to roll back the tax freeze in some form. Last year’s effort would have kept the freeze in place for everyone currently under it, but place homestead property purchased after Jan. 1 of this year under a fair market system to be assessed regularly thereafter. Frozen properties would have remained so until they changed ownership.