Gary Putnam doesn't know how he's going to afford his latest property evaluation.
"Everything I have I've sweated for, and now they may end up taking it away from me," the Dawson County resident said.
Putnam and more than 260 other rural property owners with property amounting to more than $38 million plan to fight the county's latest property evaluations, many that have increased by as much as 75 percent.
"My next stop is to the tax office to appeal this," Putnam said Monday.
Putnam owns approximately 11 acres and a two-bedroom home on Etowah Overlook Road.
Dawson County evaluated rural property for the first time in three years earlier this year. The evaluations were in line with guidelines recommended by the state, county officials say.
Other neighborhoods or property categories were not included in the reappraisal because they fall into the acceptable level of assessment in keeping with the state's guidelines, Chief Appraiser Clarence Brown said last week.
In Georgia, property is required to be assessed at 40 percent of the fair market value unless otherwise specified by law. "We are allowed to be within an acceptable range of 38-42 percent without penalty. If the county property assessments fall below the acceptable range, we can then be penalized by the state," he said.
Brown said the tax assessor's office made every attempt to serve the county's residents efficiently with the most recent evaluations and encouraged property owners to look into options to reduce their tax bills, such as preferential conservation programs.
"Fair market value, which we are required to keep on all properties, has nothing to do with conservation use value, which is furnished to the Board of Assessors by the State of Georgia," said Brown.
Property that falls under the conservation use covenant would only increase by 3 percent in most cases, Brown said.
Information on assessments, tax estimation, exemptions for which you may be entitled and public tax records may be found at www.dawsontaxassessors.org.
The deadline to make an appeal on the rural property evaluations is July 7.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.