Hamilton County officials today are mailing out reappraisal notices to thousands of residential and commercial property owners.
The reappraisals are based on estimates of each property's worth, as well as on sale prices since the 2005 reappraisal, Hamilton County Assessor Bill Bennett said.
"Last year was not great, but it was a decent year," he said. "The year before that (2007) was a good year for residential sales, the third best as reported by Realtors."
CHALLENGING YOUR REAPPRAISAL
If you have a question or want to challenge your reappraisal, call the phone number of the appraiser listed on your notice, or call the main line at the Hamilton County Assessor's Office at 209-7300.
Mr. Bennett and his staff declined to say how much the average appraisal is increasing, noting they still have some calculations to make, and the final number will change as property owners challenge the reappraisals. The 2005 reappraisal resulted in about a 15 percent increase in property values. The 2001 reappraisal resulted in about a 13 percent rise.
About 80,000 reappraisal notices are being mailed today, with a second batch to be sent on Feb. 13 and the last group on March 13, said Roy L. Rumfelt Jr., chief deputy of the assessor office. There are about 144,600 parcels of taxable land in Hamilton County.
Anyone wanting to appeal the reappraisal has 10 days to call the assessor office to talk to the appraiser who is handling his case, Mr. Rumfelt said. If you're not satisfied with the result, you can check with the Hamilton Count Board of Equalization, which will hear all appeals on June 1. The final appeal can be made to the Tennessee Board of Equalization, which will convene in Chattanooga later this year.
In carrying out the reappraisals, an appraiser drives by each property to see if any changes have been made to a property's exterior, Mr. Bennett said. Mr. Rumfelt acknowledged such a process does not identify changes made inside a structure, but that can be pointed out in an appeal.
Also, the assessor's office analyzes all real estate transactions since the last reappraisal. Although 2008 was a challenging year for property values, property prices overall since the last reappraisal have increased, Mr. Bennett said.
Tennessee law requires reappraisals to be done every four years. A local government cannot receive a windfall in revenue from reappraisals. Instead, it must adjust the tax rate down or up to keep revenues the same when the process ends.
Property that had a greater-than-average increase in value may be taxed more, while a property that increased less than the average may be taxed less.
The Hamilton County property tax rate is $3.154 per $100 of assessed valuation, while Chattanooga's is at $2.202 per $100 of assessed valuation.