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Posted by on June 28, 2012.

County sends second tax assessments to some residents

Sharon Yokelson was shocked by her home’s tax appraisal.

Some DeKalb County property owners have received a second property appraisal after their initial notices were incredibly high — in some cases more than $200,000 higher than last year.

Around 700 properties in Dunwoody were affected, including nearly every home in the Wynterhall subdivision.

Sharon Yokelson, a Wynterhall resident, said she and her neighbors were in shock when they received their assessments in the mail. They started talking and sending emails back and forth and realized that everyone’s taxes had shot up.

“We all knew, based on what sold in the neighborhood, there was no way we could sell our houses for what they were being valued at,” Yokelson said.

Yokelson said her assessment jumped from $382,000 last year to $472,000 in the initial assessment she received this year.

“We were quite up in arms about it. There were masses of emails going around about how do you appeal, who do you contact,” she said.

The Wynterhall neighbors contacted the office of their DeKalb County commissioner, Elaine Boyer, to sort out the issue, Yokelson said.

Boyer’s chief of staff Bob Lundsten said he has received around 50 calls from people complaining about high assessments so far. Lundsten compiled a list of the properties and sent it to the county tax appraiser’s office, which has discovered similar errors in about 700 other parcels.

“It’s a mistake. As soon as the department saw it, they took immediate steps to fix it,” Lundsten said.

He pointed out that similar errors were discovered in other parts of the county as well.

“It’s very quick when you live in Dunwoody and Brookhaven to say this is a DeKalb County conspiracy,” Lundsten said. “There’s no conspiracy. This goes well beyond Dunwoody.”

DeKalb County’s Chief Appraiser Calvin Hicks said the high property assessments were caused by an error in the equation used to determine the value of a property.

“It’s one of the components utilized in setting the value,” Hicks said. “You’re dealing with a number of tables associated with various systems and how those tables interact.

“Not enough attention was paid to details in some of these areas.”

Hicks said new assessments have been sent out to all the property owners in question.

Yokelson said she has received her second assessment, which brought the value of her property back to where it was last year.

Eddie Sharp, who lives in the Chateau Woods neighborhood, said for the first time in a decade, he will not be appealing his assessment.

“I think this year, at least for me personally, they’ve got my property appraised at what I think is a fair value,” Sharp said. “At my particular situation, I’ve gotten a fair appraisal finally.”

But he said he’s heard from friends and neighbors who have had very different experiences.

“It’s stunning how all over the map DeKalb County is with evaluations,” Sharp said. “I know a couple folks where their evaluation has gone up a ton. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Sharp said his property values have increased for years. But this year, the value of his land dropped from $100,000 to $85,000, Sharp said.

“My general sense is that in our area, most people have finally seen this year the declines they’ve been begging for in past years,” Sharp said. “This year I’d be willing to say that most people in my general area I believe, except a couple exceptions, have seen pretty significant declines.”

Sharp said he thinks there is a lot of discrepancy between neighborhoods and feels that the appraisal process can be unfair.

Hicks said he understands each assessment is important to property owners and his office works to respond to concerns.

“I’m pleased with the response we’ve gotten from the taxpayers,” Hicks said. “It’s easier to identify errors when you have 230,000 pairs of eyes instead of the 65 eyes on my staff. … We realize no one knows the individual properties as well as the individual owners.”

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