January 31, 2015 Tax Assessor Meeting Report

On Saturday, January 31, 2015, about 20 Pine Lake residents came to hear Calvin Hicks, DeKalb County’s Chief Appraiser, accompanied by Deputy Appraiser Donna Rosser and Alberta Lumpkin who supervises this area. Mr. Hicks was given the questions that were submitted in advance, as well as taking questions from the audience. In the interests of clarity and length, the various answers have been incorporated throughout this report, prepared by Mayor Kathie deNobriga.

 

Mr. Hicks distributed two packets of information, both available at City Hall for perusal. One is a “Property Appraisal 101” packet, with general information about the appraiser’s office and how it operates. The other packet is more specific to Pine Lake, with a parcel map, summaries of tax data from 2010-2014, and copies of web pages from http://taxcommissioner.dekalbcountyga.gov.

 

The Basics

The Board of Assessors is an independent body whose sole task is to insure that property assessments are fair. The assessed value is driven by sales values —what someone would reasonably expect to pay for a property. If you feel that “I can’t sell my property for that (the assessment),” you can appeal. This can be done on-line.

 

The assessed value of property is influenced by physical aspects, improvements, age, design: what you would be looking for if you were buying property (location, amenities, condition, etc). The Assessors attempt to mimic the decisions that the typical purchaser would make. “Sales are the life-blood, the best replication of market value.”

 

Taxes are figured on 40% of the assessed fair market value, minus exemptions (City homestead of $4,000, plus possible other state, county or school exemptions). This net assessment equals your tax liability. Pine Lake has a 80% residential tax base, with only 35 commercial assets. That puts the burden disproportionately on residents.

 

Tools

The county’s web site has an interactive map. You can access data about property value by owner’s name, address or parcel ID. The site has aerial photographs (from two angles: 45° and straight down), dimensions, zoning layers and more. Information comes from various realtor sites (MLS and others) that capture market data. Zillow.com also has lots easy-to-access 3rd-party data, and it’s free. Tip: Pine Lake is reported as part of Stone Mountain, because our sales aren’t numerous enough.

 

The Market

Values in Pine Lake declined from $21.8 million in 2010 to $15.3 million in 2014. Pine Lake was not unique: DeKalb County lost $6 billion between 2009 and 2013. 40% of Stone Mountain property values are under water. The impact has been felt state-wide, but values are starting to come back. Declining values in PL were worse than some other areas: from Decatur south, there was more impact due to foreclosures.

 

Banks view foreclosures as a drain on their bottom line; the amount of money they can borrow from the Feds is negatively impacted by the number of foreclosures on their books. Thus there is an incentive on the banks’ part to get rid of properties as soon as they can – they’re not necessarily interested in fair market value and can sell for pennies on the dollar. Legislation requires the appraiser’s office to include short, distressed, and/or foreclosed sales as evidence of market value. This has pulled assessments down, because the assessors are required to pin their assessment to the median of the range. (There is an active effort to repeal this legislation.)

 

Do empty, abandoned homes affect the surrounding houses’ value? Hicks reported that they can definitely impact your value, because you also buy for a house’s amenities: location, school district, city services, etc. People also buy property where others are like-minded, with stable, well-maintained, owner-occupied homes. This all has an impact on value. You can build a $2M house in a blighted area, and it won’t sell for #2M. Cost does not necessarily equal value.”

 A potential home owner generally gets an independent appraisal (costing about $500), based on three comparables. The County’s tax appraisal process does NOT compare three houses. Their budget is only $20 per parcel, so they use a mass appraisal approach. DeKalb is In the process of developing a market module which will yield assessments even closer to market value. Some sales will be above, and some below the market value, so DeKalb County looks for the median. By law, the fair market value cannot exceed a sale price for the year following a sale.

 

The “Two-Tier” System

Many questions were received about the purported “two-tier” system. Hicks said that there really isn’t such a thing – what there is, is an effort to segregate houses into two clusters of a similar nature, based on age. There are 2 LEAs (Land Economic Area) in Pine Lake so that the assessor can look at property characteristics and physical conditions, including level of depreciation. Many residents feel having two LEAs is unfair, because older homes are in the majority, driving up the millage rate. Hicks offered to review the practice of using two LEAs in Pine Lake in an effort to arrive at a higher level of uniformity of values within the city.

 

Recent Activity in Pine Lake

The Appraiser’s office is finishing a review of Pine Lake: every property in Pine Lake has been physically visited. (The assessors have the legal right to be on a property to examine the exterior, but not the interior.) Hicks said “we want to make sure conditions that we were basing our valuations on are accurate.” Have there been renovations, additions, modernizing? All these can yield a higher value. Some properties will increase in value, others will decrease. Properties have life-cycles (as families have life-cycles) that might result in deferred maintenance. The updated property characteristics are now being keyed into the county’s data base. Assessments, based on this new information, will go out in May. This process will have no impact on current appeals, where the value will hold for 3 years, provided no changes are made to the property in 2014 or after.

 

This comprehensive review of Pine Lake homes was initiated at Hicks’ direction, as it is his responsibility to make sure assessments are accurate. For the past two years, there was a communication lapse between Pine Lake and DeKalb County: DeKalb didn’t realize that permits were now being issued by the City, and thus didn’t get updated data. This has been addressed with the recent visits and with new administrative protocols.

 

A question about rental properties received this clarification: Most owner-occupied homes receive a homestead exemption (but when someone moves out of the county and starts to rent out their home, it can be hard to catch). A change of address triggers change of Homestead status, but there are exceptions if you work elsewhere (i.e., if you still vote in the area, have a registered vehicle), etc. Rental properties are usually assessed using an income method, so it’s important to inform the tax office when owner-occupied houses become rentals.

 

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2015 Approved Budget

Here is a link to the approved 2015 Budget in PDF format for your viewing and printing pleasure. Enjoy.

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December 8, 2014 – Action Agenda

PINE LAKE CITY COUNCIL

AGENDA

DECEMBER 8, 2014

7:30 PM

CALL TO ORDER – 7:32 pm by Mayor Pro-Tem Pulsts

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS

  • No meeting on 12/30/14
  • 12/14/14 proclaimed as Dallas Denny Day in Pine Lake

ADOPTION OF AGENDA Approved 4-0 upon motion by Stuckey, 2nd by Brown

PUBLIC COMMENTS

CONSENT AGENDA

  • PROCLAMATION COMMENDING LAKEFEST COMMITTEE
  • PROCLAMATION COMMENDING FOR CARING AND SHARING
  • APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF MEETING HELD 10/13/14, 10/28/14 AND 11/10/14
  • APPROVAL FOR PURCHASE OF PANASONIC TOUGHBOOK CF-53 AND ZEBRA PORTABLE PRINTER
  • APPROVAL OF BID FOR BEACH HOUSE CABINET INSTALLATION

Consent agenda approved 4-0 upon motion by Ehrlicher 2nd Brown

OLD BUSINESS

  • APPROVAL OF 2015 BUDGET Approved 4-0 upon motion by Brown, 2nd by Ehrlicher

NEW BUSINESS

  • RESOLUTION # R-08-2014 BUDGET AMENDMENTS Approved 4-0 upon motion by Brown, 2nd by Chidi

COMMITTEE REPORTS – None

PUBLIC COMMENTS – None

COUNCIL COMMENTS – None

ADJOURNMENT Approved 4-0 upon motion by Ehrlicher, 2nd by Brown. 7:40 pm

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Notice of Public Hearing and Called Meeting

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

 Mayor and Council of the City of Pine Lake will hold a Public Hearing on the proposed 2015 General Fund and Stormwater Utility Budgets on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 in the Clubhouse, located at 300 Clubhouse Drive beginning at 7:30 PM. The budgets are scheduled for adoption at the regularly scheduled Council meeting on December 8, 2014, located in the Courtroom at 459 Pine Drive.

Copies of the proposed budgets are available for review in the Administration office during normal business hours.

 NOTICE OF CALLED MEETING

 Mayor and Council will hold a called meeting on Monday, November 10, 2014 in the Courtroom beginning at 6:00 PM, immediately preceding the regular meeting. The purpose of this called meeting is to go into Executive Session to discuss a litigation matter.

The regularly scheduled meeting will begin at 7:30 PM.

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Minutes and 2013 Audit Report

Here are the minutes for the August 11, 2014 City Council Meeting and the 2013 Audit Report. Enjoy!

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June 24, 2014 City Council Called Meeting Action Agenda

CITY OF PINE LAKE

CITY COUNCIL CALLED MEETING

ACTION AGENDA

JUNE 24, 2014

7:30 PM

CALL TO ORDER – by Mayor Kathie deNobriga at 7:16 PM

PUBLIC HEARING ON MILLAGE RATE

ADJOURNMENT- Pulsts motioned to adjourn with a second from Brown and approved 5-0 at 7:52 PM

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Important Tax Hearing Notice – Revised Date for Final Public Hearing

NOTICE OF PROPERTY TAX INCREASE

The City of Pine Lake has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will require an increase in property taxes by 10.04 percent.

All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings on this tax increase which will be held as follows:

June 12, 2014 beginning at 7:00 AM in the Courtroom located at 459 Pine Drive, Pine Lake GA

June 12, 2014 beginning at 7:00 PM in the Courtroom located at 459 Pine Drive, Pine Lake GA

June 24, 2014 beginning at 7:15 PM in the Clubhouse located at 300 Clubhouse Dr. Pine Lake GA

The meeting at which the millage rate will be set is scheduled for June 26, 2014 beginning at 7:30 PM in the Clubhouse located at 300 Clubhouse Dr. Pine Lake GA.

This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 29.824 mills, an increase of 2.722 mills. Without this tentative tax increase, the millage rate would be no more than 27.102 mills. The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $150,000 is approximately $153 and the proposed tax increase for a commercial/non-homestead property with a fair market value of $200,000 would be approximately $188.00.

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Important Property Tax Hearings and Information

The links below outline the upcoming hearings for the millage rate and other important tax digest information.  Please plan to attend these meetings on June 12 and June 26; the details are in the PDFs through these links:

Notice of Property Tax Increase

2014 Year Tax History

Thank you.

 

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March 25, 2014 – Voting Meeting! City Council Meeting – 7:30PM

CITY OF PINE LAKE

CITY COUNCIL MEETING

AGENDA

MARCH 25, 2014

7:30 PM

CALL TO ORDER

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

PUBLIC COMMENTS

OLD BUSINESS

CONSIDERATION OF PERMIT FOR OUTDOOR FESTIVALS AND USE OF PUBLIC LANDS AND BUILDINGS

DISCUSSION OF COMPASSIONATE ATLANTA

CONSENT AGENDA – All matters listed under this item are considered to be routine by the City Council and will be enacted by one motion.  There will not be separate discussion of items.  If discussion is desired, that item will be removed from the consent agenda and will be considered separately.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF MEETINGS HELD 03/10/14

NEW BUSINESS

CONSIDERATION OF 2013 BUDGET ADJUSTMENT

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS

PUBLIC COMMENTS

COUNCIL COMMENTS

ADJOURNMENT

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Important Meeting Notices for November 12

PUBLIC NOTICE OF CALLED MEETING

The Mayor and Council of the City of Pine Lake will hold a Public Hearing on the 2014 Budget on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 in the Courtroom/Council Chambers, 459 Pine Drive, Pine Lake, GA 30072, beginning at 7:30 PM.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

The Mayor and Council of the City of Pine Lake will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 to solicit input on an updated Zoning Map for the City.  This meeting will be held in the Courtroom/Council Chambers, 459 Pine Drive, Pine Lake, Georgia 30072, beginning at 7:30 pm.  Interested parties are invited to attend.

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