For the first time in five years, most Gwinnett County property owners will see higher values on the county property assessment notices mailed Friday.
From 2008 to 2013, the county saw a nearly 29 percent drop in its property tax digest.
This year, the county expects to recover about a third of that value, adding more than $2 billion of value through assessment increases.
The county also added about $350 million in new property to its tax digest, including about $215 million from residential properties and $135 million from commercial properties.
County officials estimate that, after taking appeals into account, the overall increase in the property tax digest could be approximately 10 percent.
Metro Atlanta housing prices rose more than 18 percent in 2013, according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Houses in metro Atlanta are now selling at 2002 levels, by the index’s measure.
And while Gwinnett has been the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in metro Atlanta, the county saw about half as many foreclosures in 2013 compared to 2012.
Gwinnett County Chief Appraiser Steve Pruitt said the recovering real estate market justifies raising values this year.
“The market dropped and we had to follow it downwards,” he said of past years’ decreases.
But Pruitt said he does not expect county assessments to rise sharply in the coming years.
“I will be really surprised if values continue to increase at their current rate,” he said.
Higher assessments could mean higher tax bills for some property owners.
The $1.5 billion budget county commissioners approved in January assumed a modest increase in county property values. The Board of Commissioners will decide later this year where to set the county’s tax rate, county spokesperson Joe Sorenson said.
County Chairman Charlotte Nash said she expects county commissioners to “look strongly” at setting a tax rate lower than last year’s. Whether many property owners will see higher county tax bills will depend on where exactly the tax rate is set.
The Gwinnett County school district is scheduled to approve its budget in May. The school board expects to keep the same tax rate as last year to fund that budget, district spokesperson Sloan Roach said. But the higher values mean the district will raise more money even using the same tax rate. As required by state law, district officials expect to hold public hearings on the tax rate this spring.
The assessment notices mailed Friday include an estimate of the property’s tax bill based on last year’s tax rate and this year’s current fair market value. However, the actual tax bill will be based on the tax rates set by the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education later this year.
Property owners have until May 19 to file an appeal. You can file an appeal by mail, in person or online at www.gwinnett-assessor.com.