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Not happy with your tax assessment? Speak up soon

J. H. Osborne • Updated Apr 10, 2017 at 9:23 AM

BLOUNTVILLE Sullivan County property owners should have received a notice in the mail telling them the latest value placed on their property by the county property assessor's office. That office reassesses property countywide every four years.

The value, or appraisal, is used to determine your property tax assessment.

Sullivan County Property Assessor Ron Hillman said the notices were mailed on March 31, and each told property owners what to do if they have questions or want to challenge the new assessment: call 354-7031, before April 28.

"If you do believe the appraised value on this notice does not reflect the market value of you property or in not in line with the appraised values of similar properties in the county, or if you believe your property hs been erroneously classified, you may contact the assessor of property or appear before the local board of equalization," the notice mailed to property owners reads, in part.

Talking to the Times-News late last week, Hillman said his office has received a steady influx of telephone calls from property owners. Many of them, Hillman said, simply wanted a basic explanation of what a reappraisal is and why their property had been included. More than a few, he said, accused the county of upping property values to pay for the recent $140 million bond issue for school facilities.

Hillman said he has tried to explain the timing is purely coincidental. In fact, 2017 is right on schedule for Sullivan County to have an every-fourth-year countywide reappraisal. The last one was in 2013.

If his office can't answer your questions, you have the right to go before a county appeals board, Hillman said, and if that group doesn't satisfy you, you then have the right to appeal to the Tennessee Board of Equalization.

Otherwise, Hillman was short on details about the overall reappraisal and did not provide an estimate on total overall growth in the countywide assessment, nor an average percentage increase in parcel evaluations.

Hillman said it will likely be the end of June before his office can provide county officials with an estimated certified tax rate - a calculation required by state law, sometimes called "truth in taxation," intended to prevent counties and municipalities from reaping a windfall when the countywide assessment increases due to a a scheduled reappraisal, rather than from growth in the tax base. It means the state will require the county to set a tax rate, likely lower than the current one, that generates the same amount of revenue as prior to the reappraisal. If the Sullivan County Commission decides to set a higher tax rate, even if it is equal to last year's rate, it must advertise it as a tax increase.

In Tennessee, industrial/commerical property parcels are assessed at 40 percent of their appriased value, residential parcels are assessed at 25 percent, and personal property (such as equipment used in businesses) is assessed at 30 percent. It means that the tax bill on your home, for example, is based on 25 percent of the property's appraised value. And the tax rate is charged "per $100 of assesssed value (so you divide your property's assessed value by $100, then multiply the result by the tax rate to estimate your tax bill).

According to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury's 2016 Tax Aggreagate Report from the State Board of Equalization:

For 2016, Sullivan County had a countywide property value of nealy $13.16 billion (about $5.73 billion of that located within Kingsport, with another $2.25 billion worth in Bristol)resulting in a total countywide assessment (less public utilities) of more than $3.61 billion.

That 2016 total countwide assessment of more than $3.61 billion: more than $1.87 billion was from parcels classified as residential (including about $629 million worth in Kingsport and another nearly $287.57 million worth in Bristol); more than $1.12 billion was from parcels classified as industrial/commercial (including nearly $659 million worth in Kingsport and another $311.6 million worth in Bristol); nearly $515 million was from parcels classified as industrial/commerical personal property (including about $369.5 million worth in Kingsport and another nearly $52 million worth in Bristol); and about $103.8 million was from parcels classified as farms.

Sullivan County's tax rate to fund this year's budget was $2.5745 (per $100 of assessed value). The Sullivan County Commission has since approved a $140 bond issue for school construction projects, a figure then estimated to require a nine-cent tax increase.

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