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Dawson County will appeal state audit findings that claim local tax digest is too low
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The new Dawson County Government Center on Shoal Creek Road will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday with a ribbon cutting celebration. Gov. Nathan Deal will deliver the keynote address. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Following this past tax year, Dawson County’s government is facing the same predicament as other counties in northern Georgia: A state audit has found that its 2021 property tax digest is too low. 

This story continues below.

Following an executive session and their work meeting, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Aug. 18 to authorize the Tax Assessor’s Office and legal counsel to appeal the results of the Department of Audits and Accounts’ audit on the tax digest. 

“They determined through their processes and procedures that Dawson County undervalued the properties in Dawson County from a tax assessment perspective,” District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said during the Aug. 18 voting session. 

Other news publications have reported similar situations in Calhoun and Upson counties. 

Chief Appraiser Elaine Garrett said in an email to DCN that the goal of the Dawson County Tax Assessor’s office is to  “achieve fair market value each year” as it’s laid out in state law. 

“Markets increasing at significant rates cause values to have to be increased by larger increments than usual which can be shocking to taxpayers,” Garrett said. “The audit performed found that Dawson County’s values were not high enough for the 2021 digest year. We disagree with this opinion and feel that the study does not reflect our digest results accurately.”

During the Aug. 18 meeting, Gaines added that this dispute won’t affect Dawson taxpayers’ existing tax invoices and that those will proceed like normal as the county goes through the process of disputing the state audit. 

Following an appeal like this, a taxing authority such as Dawson County would generally set up a meeting with the Department of Audits to discuss their concerns, said Garrett. If a mutually agreed-upon meeting doesn’t come out of the meeting, then the next step would be for the dispute to be heard by a panel of arbitrators. That panel would make the final decision.

“The [state’s] audit study can only be appealed by a taxing authority within the county,” Garrett added.  “The taxing authorities are directly affected by the digest because it, along with each taxing authorities budget, is used to calculate the millage rate needed which is used with the values produced on the digest to create tax bills for individuals and businesses.”